Turkana men are unaware of birth and disease control measures that have improved the living conditions of families living elsewhere in Kenya.
The 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) launched Thursday shows that only two per cent of Turkana men are aware that using condoms and keeping to an uninfected partner reduces chances of contracting HIV – contrary to 49 per cent of their women.
This prevention knowledge is lowest among the youth, with most having little or no education. The sample size of the survey was 31,079.
“Only 44 per cent of women and 50 per cent of men with no education know the two prevention methods compared to 84 per cent of women and 90 per cent of men with secondary or higher education,” said Jackson Kioko, deputy director of medical services.
Dr Kioko, however, applauded the fact that majority of Kenyan men are circumcised, an act that reduces risk of HIV transmission.
The survey also shows a worrying trend of health workers performing female genital cutting. Over 21 per cent of women aged between 15 years and 49 years have been circumcised, either traditionally or by professionals.
Over 75 per cent of Samburu, Somali, Kisii and Maasai women are circumcised compared to less than two per cent of women in Turkana, Luo, Luhya, and Swahili groups.
Principle Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Nicholas Muraguri, said there are severe consequences for parents who are encouraging the workers to conduct the illegal cut, saying that they face jail sentences among other penalties.