Lobby points out gaps in new reproductive health policy
As it moves towards consolidate gains made in the health sector, the Ministry of Health recently launched a landmark policy that is aimed at achieving universal quality reproductive healthcare and services.
The Policy, Kenya National Reproductive Health Policy 2022-2032, seeks to address age specific needs of the entire life spectrum of the Kenyan population, including reducing unmet family planning needs, reducing the burden of reproductive tract infections (RTI) and improving access to and quality of RTI services and reducing the HIV and AIDS burden and eliminating mother to child transmission (eMTCT) of HIV.
However, while these are notable gains made by the health ministry to tackle major issues surrounding reproductive health issues, the legal society maintain that the policy is not inclusive.
Martin Onyango, Associate Director Legal Strategies for Africa at the Center for Reproductive Rights explains that the policy has touched on most thing that was mentioned in the Reproductive Health bill 2019, but still there are gaps that need to be filled in order to accelerate realisation of the promise to eliminate negative reproductive health outcomes in the country.
“The policy was timely, and is a good direction for Kenya even as we struggle to catch up with reproductive gains that was reversed during the pandemic, however, denying adolescents access to reproductive health services or information, fails to address teenage pregnancies and numerous cases of death due to unsafe abortions,” he notes.
“The policy still makes age of consent a mandatory entry point to access of SRHR services which leaves out a large populations from accessing reproductive health by only making provisions for certain services for married couples only,” he adds.
Martin says although the policy was design to align with the laws of Kenya and cultural beliefs of a majority of Kenyans as stated by the Ministry of Health, there are still some things that ought to have been included in the making of the policy.
On the issue of assisted reproductive birth, martin says that the government has singled out single parents who might be facing challenges having a baby.
“It is good that they have touched on increasing access of management of infertile couples, but it is good to also note that amongst the population of Kenya, there are unmarried people who might also be struggling to have children, but have been left out,” he says adding that even as we commemorate World Population Day, Kenya has a long way to go to improve its citizens’ quality of life.