Central Kenya tops in the use of contraceptives among women, new data shows, an indication of fruitful attempts to ease the biting effects of population pressure.
An estimated 73 per cent of women in the region use birth control devices and drugs (collectively knows as contraceptives), research by the Performance Monitoring and Accountability (PMA 2020) reveals. The region is followed by Eastern at 70 per cent and Nairobi with 63 per cent.
The use of contraceptives is lowest among women in North Eastern at three per cent, Coast at 44 per cent and Rift Valley at 53 per cent.
In terms of individual counties, Kirinyaga tops countrywide at 81 per cent against a national average of 58 per cent. Others with high rates of contraceptive use are Makueni (80 per cent), Meru (78 per cent), Machakos (76 per cent), Tharaka Nithi (74 per cent) and Kimabu (74 per cent).
There is markedly low use of contraceptives in pastoral counties with Mandera and Wajir both registering a usage of just two per cent. Others are Garissa(6 per cent), Turkana(10 per cent), Marsabit(12 per cent) and West Pokot(14 per cent).
The high use of contraceptive in Kirinyaga is duly reflected in the spacing of births and the number of children per household.
For instance, only five per cent of women in the county have birth intervals of less than two years. Contrastingly, about 37 per cent of women in Garissa have birth intervals of less than two years.
In terms of child births per household, Central Kenya has the lowest lifetime birth per woman; Kirinyaga(2), Kiambu(3), Nyeri(3), Muranga(3), Embu(3) and Meru(3), against a national average of four.
Those with highest lifetime birth per woman are; Wajir(8), West Pokot(7), Turkana(7), Samburu(6), Garissa(6), Narok(6),Tana River(6) and Migori(5).
Although there are diverse types of contraceptives in the market, implants have become the most popular, supplanting injectable, especially among poor and uneducated women in Kenya who are taking advantage of free facilities in public health centres, a different survey recently showed.
Approximately 53.3 per cent of women using implants in Kenya are unschooled while 41 per cent fall within the lowest wealth quantile, the research said.
“A higher proportion of implant users compared to all modern contraceptive users are married, live in rural areas, are less educated, are poorer, obtain their services from public health facilities and receive their method for free,” the research said.
The uptake of implants, however, remains low among educated working-class women who mainly visit private hospitals where the cost of such services remains prohibitive and are not covered by health insurance packages. The report states that among all the modern methods of contraception, implants account for 33.4 per cent.
It costs an average of Sh7,000- Sh15,000 to obtain implant services in private hospitals in Kenya—a possible indication of why the uptake remains low among the category of women who frequent such facilities.
More women in the lower segment of the social pyramid prefer the use of implants, with the study saying 41 per cent of implant users are from the lowest wealth quintile, 23 per cent in the middle while 36 per cent in the highest wealth bracket.
Rural residents contribute to the highest proportion of birth control with the research indicating that 72.3 per cent use them compared to the urbanites who only account for 27.7 per cent.
Most of the implant users- 82 per cent- received their contraceptives from public health facilities and only 54.7 per cent of them paid for the service.