What you need to know:
- Ms Olang' is unable to access her choice of contraceptive as supply of various commodities continue to shrink, exposing her to unwanted pregnancy.
- I was forced to buy E-pills (emergency contraceptives) from the pharmacy which cost me Sh150.
- A nurse at Thika Level Five Hospital in Kiambu Countyconfirmed that a range of contraceptives had run out at the health facility.
- Shortage of family planning commodities could largely be attributed to the fact that a lot of sexual reproductive health programs are donor funded.
- Ms Komba says the government should ensure contraceptives are available in health centres and hospitals to caution against cases of unplanned pregnancies.
When the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Kenya in mid-March, Essy Olang' never imagined that it would directly affect her life.
As the number of infections continued to rise every day, it did not take long before she started to feel the effects of the global health crisis.
Ms Olang' says today, she is unable to access her choice of contraceptive as supply of various commodities continue to shrink, exposing her to unwanted pregnancy.
In May and June, she told Nation, her numerous trips to health facilities in Migosi Ward, Kisumu Central, bore no fruit.
“The health centre had no contraceptives like implants and pills. I was forced to buy some E-pills (emergency contraceptives) from the pharmacy which cost me Sh150. It’s usually free at the clinic and all public hospitals,” says Ms Olang.
To ensure that such supplies are not affected during such crisis, she says there is a need for county governments to budget for the provision of contraceptives yearly.
A nurse at Thika Level Five Hospital in Kiambu County, who declined to be named as she is not authorised to speak with the media, confirmed that a range of contraceptives had run out at the health facility.
“There has been a low supply of contraceptives since the outbreak of coronavirus,” she said.
Kenya Female Advisory Organisation (Kefeado) executive director Ms Esther Oketch says the shortage of family planning commodities could largely be attributed to the fact that a lot of sexual reproductive health programs are donor funded.
She adds that many governments and organisations worldwide, have channelled their resources to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The government is capable of funding the sexual and reproductive health programs if it seals loopholes where money gets lost,” she said.
Eva Komba, a gender and development expert, says it is sad that sexual and reproductive health commodities like contraceptives have been relegated to the back-burner and no longer seen as a priority in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms Komba says the government should ensure contraceptives are available in health centres and hospitals to caution against cases of unplanned pregnancies.
“There is no way issues of reproductive health will be ignored because of coronavirus since it is a health right issue. Many girls and women cannot afford to buy them from private pharmacies where they are expensive compared to public clinics where they are given free,’ says Ms Komba.
She says if unchecked, a spike in unplanned pregnancies would lead to a huge burden on the economy and the government.
The Covid-19 pandemic potentially has catastrophic secondary impacts on the health of women and girls around the world.
Sexual and reproductive health needs are often neglected in the midst of an emergency – and Covid-19 is no different.
Locally, some public health facilities have run out most popular reproductive health supplies like pills, implants and coils.
In April, Acting Director General for Health Dr Patrick Amoth issued guidelines for the continuity of reproductive, maternal, new-born and family planning care services in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Amoth noted that Kenya has made significant gains in reducing unmet need for contraception as well as expanding access to a variety of contraceptive methods.
He observed that the Covid-19 pandemic threatened gains made by disrupting global commodity supply chain; he added that it had put enormous pressure on the healthcare providers and organisation of family planning service delivery points.
A section of obstetricians and gynaecologists say while the measures targeting the spread of the Covid-19 are both necessary and relevant, attention is needed for their unintended impact.
They say such measures ranging from access to provision of sexual and reproductive services including maternal and new-born health services, contraception, management of unintended pregnancies is paramount.
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in June warned that 47 million women in 114 low and middle-income countries may not be able to access modern contraceptives and seven million unintended pregnancies are expected to occur if lockdowns carry on for six months, which could end up causing major disruptions to health services.