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Scholar’s son Joseph is just 20 months old. And she’s not ready for another baby yet. I met Scholar at Kitui County Referral Hospital where she had come for her regular-dose injectable contraception. Although her plan was to get an injection that protects against pregnancy for three months, she instead opted for an Implanon NXT—one type of long-acting and reversible contraception, or LARC, method that can last three years. Kitui County has one of the highest total fertility rates in Kenya. Women here have an average of five children. But Scholar is among a growing number of women who are rejecting the common myths in Kenya that keep many women away from highly effective family planning methods. For example, some say that after using these methods women will never conceive again, or that using LARCs results in having children with disabilities.
Jane Kinya, a nurse in the county, says these myths are based on misinformation. And health workers like her are making a difference. Jane completed a contraceptive technology training in May 2015 supported by FUNZOKenya, a five-year IntraHealth-led and USAID-funded project. It focused on LARCs and equipped health workers with the necessary counseling skills to help clients make informed choices.
“The training introduced us to many things we didn’t know,” says Jane. “A lot of things are changing in family planning, and it’s important that health workers are well updated on the new technologies.” FUNZOKenya is helping the Ministry of Health transform how it trains health workers, increasing the quality and accessibility of preservice and in-service training.
“We gained a lot of confidence on the procedures. As a nurse, you can’t recommend something you are not confident about. We also learned how to give the client the right information and answer all their questions,” Jane says.
Scholar, the client, chose an Implanon NXT this time. “I like it because I don’t have to keep coming to the hospital every three months," she says. "Because I can forget or may lack the money to come.” Scholar had been using an injection for the past year and credits Jane for her change of heart.
“She assured me that the new method is just as good as the injection, it is not painful, and when I want to have a baby I can just come and have it removed,” Scholar says.
Scholar also says before getting the three-year method she had to speak to her husband on the phone. “I called and explained it to him. I told him the nurse assured me I can have a baby whenever I want,” Scholar says.
“Many people fear it because they’ve been told they can’t have children again.” The County Reproductive Health Coordinator Christine Sammy, who supervised the training, said the birth rate was too high in Kitui, a county where over 60% of people are living below the poverty line. Through the FUNZOKenya project, we’ve partnered with the Ministry of Health to provide training in HIV, family planning, and maternal and child health services to over 8,500 health workers.
These health workers with improved skills will continue to make a difference at their facilities—improving delivery of essential services and helping women like Scholar make informed choices for their futures.
Follow our #HealthWorkersCount 4 #FamilyPlanning series on our photo blog, Picture It, and help spread the word! Today's tweet:
Photo by Peter Abwao for IntraHealth International (Jane Kinya prepares to give Scholar the Implanon NXT)
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