More Teenagers Seeking Long Term Contraceptives to avoid dropping out of school

In the remote village of Kopanga some 30 kilometres away from Migori town, a 30 year old mother and her daughter of 15 walks into a dispensary for family planning services but do not directly say so.

Benta Aoko James, a housewife and mother of eleven children visited Kopanga Dispensary after getting word from a community health worker that there is a health event offering free reproductive health services.

When it is her turn to see the nurse, Benta asks in Luo: “Doctor I would like to know how many eggs I have left, I have given birth so much.”

The nurse, Alice Wachilwa is taken aback by Benta’s request but deduces that the mother requires counselling on family planning.

As she opens up, it becomes clear that Beta’s worry is her expanding family and her 15 year old daughter who she says is seeing boys and may end up with a pregnancy.

“My daughter is in class seven and I would not like her to drop out of school, please talk to her,” she appeals.

The Daughter-Immaculate Achieng is the second born of the eleven children while the first born, a boy aged 17, had dropped out of primary school.

The nurse counsels Benta who settles on a non-hormonal IUCD for birth control saying that she likes the fact that it can help her avoid pregnancy for over 10 years.

The daughter while having a separate session with the nurse confesses that she has a boyfriend with whom they have been having a sexual relationship.

Immaculate and her boyfriend who is also a student haven’t been using any contraceptive.

She says she knows of friends who use injectable contraceptives but she has never tried it herself. “Some girls around go for Depo but I haven’t tried it,” she acknowledges.

After undergoing a pregnancy test and counselling on sexual reproductive health, Immaculate also choses an IUCD as her preferred method of contraception.

“I am happy because I know I will give birth only when I want and I thank the nurse for talking to the girl,” Benta beams.

She however, expresses fears that her husband would not be pleased to find out that their daughter is on birth control.

Elsewhere in Siaya County, 16 year old Consolata Adhiambo walks into Ngiya Dispensary purposely to get a contraceptive. Like her counterpart in Migori County, she has ever had that talk with her mother regarding early pregnancies.

Consolata Adhiambo is a form two student and says she has seen a number of her peers drop out of school never to resume again due to pregnancies. She does not want to go down that path. She wants to complete her studies uninterrupted and one day become a teacher though she has a boyfriend.

She tells me that her mother has always insisted that prevention is better than cure and advised her to come to the dispensary and seek for a birth control method.

Consolata is lucky because on the particular date, a team of health providers from an indigenous NGO, Kisumu Medical and Education Trust from came to the Dispensary to offer free family health services and talks.

She is attended to and settles on an implant, a method shot in the arm and prevents pregnancy for 3 years.

According to the 2008-2009 KDHS data, 42% of women aged 15-19 years in Migori County have begun childbearing while at least one in ten (10 per cent) women aged 15-49 years have had a live birth before age of 15 in Siaya County.

In Kenya, there is a draft bill on Reproductive health that proposes to allow adolescents access to contraceptives with or without their parents’ consent.

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