The Kwale County ministries of health, education, and youth and gender collaborated to develop a new costed action plan to address the growing concern of teenage pregnancy. The plan aims to increase access to family planning information and services for adolescents and teenage girls aged between 10-19 years.
Kwale’s teenage pregnancy rate of 24% is higher than the national average of 18% (Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2014), and requires urgent action. Partners including Marie Stopes International, Population Services Kenya, Plan International, Women Fighting Aids in Kenya, and more have committed to supporting Kwale County by funding the costed action plan for a total of US $100,000.
Through the action plan, Kwale County government and partners will provide family planning counseling and services for adolescents and teenagers, including post-partum family planning; orient head teachers and teachers in charge of school health clubs; and connect the primary schools with the highest teenage pregnancy rates to nearby health facilities. The government will also conduct family planning outreach services and facilitate health discussions in schools.
Advocacy led by Advance Family Planning local partner Jhpiego resulted in the formation of a county technical working group including an adolescent pregnancy sub-committee. The sub-committee comprises Kwale’s ministries of health, education, and youth, and first lady Christine Mvurya’s Fanikisha Foundation. It spearheaded the development of the action plan and is continuing to oversee its implementation.
Media advocacy efforts led by Jhpiego also contributed to the fast tracking of the action plan, and goodwill from other partners. Jhpiego engaged journalists from the national and county media platforms to air stories on teenage pregnancy in the county. A documentary on NTV, a local TV station, in September 2016 and an article in The Daily Nation newspaper on September 26, 2016, along with weekly family planning segments on Kwale’s Radio Ranet and Radio Kaya showcased the gravity of the adolescent pregnancy situation in the county.
David Baya, the county health promotion officer, commented, “We saw [teenage pregnancy] as an issue, but the media coverage really helped in raising the awareness of the community and other partners, who now want the matter addressed.”
In mid-March 2017, Marie Stopes and Jhpiego supported the county in the orientation of 200 head teachers and teachers in charge of school health clubs as part of the plan’s implementation.
Jhpiego will continue to collaborate with Kwale’s government and stakeholders to ensure that the costed action plan is implemented.