The ministries of health and education in Kenya’s Narok County are implementing their multi-sectoral costed action plan to address the county’s high teenage pregnancy rate. Narok County leads Kenya in the number of women aged 15 to 19 who have begun childbearing at 40%, far above the national average of 18%[i]. Approved in May 2017, the plan aims to prevent unintended pregnancy by providing targeted interventions for adolescents. Narok is the second county to develop such a plan, following Kwale County in April 2017.
Almost immediately after the approval, in July 2017, ministry officials in Narok County joined teachers, community-based health administrators, youth organizations, and cultural and religious leaders to design a referral program for high school students. Between August and December 2017, about 3,000 students from more than 10 schools received contraceptive information and services. Of those 3,000, 55 adolescents (10-14) received contraception as new, first-time clients, while 16 were revisiting clients. Among students aged 15 to 19, 244 received contraception as new clients, with 156 as revisits.
Other program activities include an orientation of teachers; sensitization of parents and community leaders; training of community health volunteers and family planning champions; technical working group meetings; school health talks; back-to-school programs for adolescent mothers; and other advocacy-specific actions. All stakeholders are involved in the implementation of the plan.
To secure the action plan’s development and approval, local Advance Family Planning (AFP) partner Jhpiego Kenya convened consultative meetings between the directors of health and education in Narok County to facilitate the release of pregnancy-related school dropout data and antenatal/delivery data from health facilities for ages 10-14 years and 15-19. This data was important in revealing the burden of adolescent and teenage pregnancy in the country. From the data collected, the cases of school dropout teenage pregnancy in 2016 was 143. In addition, 9 out of 15 maternal deaths that occurred in Narok County between April and September 2016 were among adolescents (10-19).
The sharing of data was catalytic in the formation of a multi-sectoral technical working group facilitated by AFP. The working group includes an adolescent pregnancy sub-committee which comprises of ministries of health, education, and youth; religious and cultural leaders; youth organizations; and other implementing partners.
As a next step, discussions are underway between the ministries of health and education; local implementing partners including Christian Aid, AMREF, and World Vision; the Anglican Church of Kenya; and Jhpiego Kenya for more funding to implement the action plan.
[i] Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2014. Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Health/Kenya, National AIDS Control Council/Kenya, Kenya Medical Research Institute, National Council for Population and Development/Kenya, and ICF International.