COMMEMORATING THE TEENAGE PREGNANCY AWARENESS MONTH IN NAIROBI COUNTY.
Teenage pregnancies have been heavy on our minds quite recently, more so due to the alarming numbers reported in the media. Picture this; as of 2019 latest statistics from the Global Childhood, Kenya had the third-highest teen pregnancy rates with 82 births per 1,000 births. This stark reality is what fuels us at the #SautiSasa campaign, and drives our zeal to work with young people to end teenage pregnancies. It is in this spirit that we ideated the Sauti Sasa Teenage Pregnancy Awareness month launched in August 2021, in effort to bring onboard partners to push for accelerated multi-sectoral action to address this menace.
A key component of this awareness month was the Sauti Sasa Festivals in the Nairobi, Western and Coastal regions. In Nairobi County, the main feature was the Contraceptive Open Days launched on 26th August at Kayole 1 Health Centre alongside partners such as Moped, Marie Stopes, the National Youth Council, and the National Council on Population and Development. Owing to the challenges many adolescents and youth face when accessing sexual and reproductive healthcare services, these open days sought to bridge the gap by not only providing much-needed contraceptives to young people but also asserted the need for improved access to youth friendly services.
In an effort to provide these services to as many young people as possible, the contraceptive open days which ran for a period of six days were a key feature at the Riruta, Kayole, Umoja, Kangemi, Huruma Lions, Mukuru, and Embakasi health centers. Supported by 16 community healthcare volunteers, approximately 1,200 girls took part in the open days with 540 among them accessing contraceptives. This activity was indubitably a success owing to the donations of 2,600 sanitary towels and 30,000 condoms from our incredible partners. This re-affirms the need for multi-stakeholder action in improving access to sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and youth. Further, it serves as a clarion call for more partners, particularly private sector entities to join the fight against teenage pregnancies.
While much remains undone, we believe that the Contraceptive Open Days have made a significant effort to provide adolescents and youth with much-needed information and services to take charge of their sexual and reproductive health. This will no doubt empower them to make informed choices on their sexuality which will, in turn, contribute to better sexual and reproductive health outcomes for this demographic and reduced teenage pregnancies. These contraceptive open days also make a case for an annual teenage pregnancy awareness and prevention month; 31 days where we can take stock of the progress made towards reducing teenage pregnancies as well as upscale intentional investments and interventions towards addressing this pertinent issue. The #SautiSasa campaign remains committed to the realization of a future where teenage pregnancies are no longer a crisis and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have you(th) on board. #SautiSasa
By Beatrice Nyamwenge Okech