Health & Fitness

Increased TV access to aid reproductive health

Birth

Mothers mark the World Contraception Day in Mombasa. file photo | nmg

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Summary

  • Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) puts television set ownership at 35 per cent, indicating a 16 per cent growth over the last eight years.
  • A density map indicating the location of these devices shows that the majority are in urban towns.
  • A previous bottleneck to ownership of TV sets was lack of electricity, but increased promises to alter this.

Data from the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census show television set ownership to be about 30 per cent of households.

A more recent report from the 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) puts this figure at 35 per cent, indicating a 16 per cent growth over the last eight years. No doubt this number has risen since then.

While the two sets of documents do no offer a mesh of the information contained in each, what can be extrapolated is that there could be a correlation between ownership of a television and certain desired health outcomes.

However a density map indicating the location of these devices will show that the majority are in urban towns.

In most rural areas ownership of television sets is still low and ranks worst amongst marginalised areas like Turkana, Marsabit and Maasailand.

Coincidentally these are the same areas with cultures heavily suppressive of female “empowerment”.

While television has been previously deemed an entertainment item, it also is an informative tool emerging to be of particular importance in shaping reproductive health and socioeconomic issues.

One notable observation at least on the African setup is that number of hours spent watching television, could be higher amongst women in reproductive age especially in rural areas where many are housewives. By extension this may apply to young girls too.

But does ownership and access to television mean better achievements in reproductive health goals?

Though an argument could be advanced that amongst female children born in a family with a TV affects future family size, husband choice , maybe the wealth quintile in which these females are born is the determinant.

A desire for socioeconomic independence may be shaping up the future generation of young female TV watchers.

Some schools of thought have gone as far as saying TV is the best and most cost-effective investment for long-term contraception because it challenges the mindset.

A previous bottleneck to ownership of TV sets was lack of electricity, but increased promises to alter this. TV will revolutionise rural women’s viewpoints on their reproductive health rights.

In addition to condoms, let us also increase television penetration in rural households to win the war.