Kilifi County is targeting men to dispel myths surrounding the use of contraceptives in the community so as to increase family planning uptake and reduce the dependency rate.
The rate of family planning uptake in women is 49 percent, up from 32 percent in 2014.
In 2013, male involvement in family planning was 33 percent but it is now 84 percent.
The county government plans sensitisation campaigns at the grassroots to enlighten men about the importance of family planning, said Kenneth Miriti, county coordinator for reproductive health.
According to Mr Miriti, men are the main obstacle in efforts to encourage family planning because of many myths about contraceptives.
Men had instilled fear in their partners willing to adopt family planning, he said, and sometimes women would leave their clinical cards at health centres to hide them from their husbands.
“These myths have led men to be rigid on the issue of family planning, and they do not want their women to use contraceptives,” he said.
Mr Miriti said a report from the Kenya Bureau of Statistics showed that 80 percent of families in Kilifi depend on 20 percent of people with a stable income.
He urged partners to have small families that they can take care of.
“We are not asking couples not to give birth, but we are telling them to weigh their income and have children they can manage and take care of them to become productive in the future,” he added.
In 2014, Kilifi was among six counties with low family planning uptake.
Mr Miriti said an increase in family planning uptake has helped address teenage pregnancies.
“Kilifi has moved from 39 percent of teenage pregnancies in 2018 to 13 percent this year, and also the ‘Mwenye’ syndrome where men demanded that women must seek permission from them before [using family planning methods],” he said.
The county’s Health department, he said, has robust plans to help residents get the contraceptives they need.
The programmes are supported by non-state actors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Population Services Kenya.
To increase uptake, contraceptives were made available free at hospitals and other public health centres in villages. Health workers were also trained to offer quality family planning services.
Mr Miriti said Kilifi was among the first counties to allocate money in its annual budget for family planning.
In 2017, the Health department set aside Sh5 million and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated Sh10 million.
The allocation increased in 2018 to Sh7 million, while Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation maintained their donation of Sh10 million.
In the 2019/2020 financial year, the department allocated Sh14 million for family planning and to prevent teenage pregnancies.