By Samuel Ouma
The government of Kenya, through the Ministry of Health, on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, launched the national reproductive health policy (2022-2032) as it moves to consolidate gains made in the health sector.
The policy, which seeks to address the age-specific needs of the entire life spectrum of the Kenyan population, contains bold steps meant to achieve universal quality reproductive health care and services in line with the right to the highest status of health as enshrined in the constitution of Kenya 2010.
Speaking while launching the policy, Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache, who was representing health CS Mutahi Kagwe, said the Kenyan government recognizes reproductive health as an essential component of the national development agenda as it moves to consolidate impressive gains made in the recent past that have unmasked new challenges that call for bold policy shifts.
According to Mochache, the policy seeks to address Maternal Health, Family Planning, Adolescence and young adults’ reproductive health, as well as Marginalized persons and age cohorts in reproductive health. The policy further mainstreams the special reproductive health needs of persons born with a disability.
The policy also seeks to provide age-appropriate and culturally competent information and education to guide the nation in ensuring that reproductive health remains the pillar of good health and not a portal for adverse health outcomes cognizant of the role of information in shaping one’s reproductive health trajectory.
“The National reproductive health policy seeks to address the age-specific needs of the entire life cohort of the Kenyan population: from the reproductive health needs of a baby born intersex, through an adolescent seeking guided understanding of the changes occurring, and protection from harm, as they cross over to adulthood, to the family seeking to prevent cancer of the organs of reproduction, or struggling with a member afflicted by cancer of the cervix, ovary or breast or reproductive tract, all the way to the reproductive health needs of the older citizens such as menopause and andropause that have been muted for too long in previous policy pronouncements,” said Mochache.
She said the policy’s launch was delayed to allow as much public participation and divergent opinion as feasible.
“Fellow Kenyans, I am fully aware reproductive health is dear and speaks to the very heart of a nation’s existence, but let us have a healthy discourse as a nation by not allowing reproductive health to be the entry point for ill health to our bodies or our society. Rather take it as an opportunity to protect the life course of your health towards the enjoyment of the highest attainable status of health,” said the PS.
Speaking during the launch, Kenya medical association president Dr. Simon Kigondu said the national reproductive health policy is key in ongoing health sector reforms even as he urged stakeholders not to concentrate on their differences but instead protect the women of Kenya.
“I hope the policy will inject the much-needed resources to address reproductive health challenges among Kenyan women,” said Dr. Kigondu.
Director, Medical Services, Preventive and Promotive Health at the Ministry of Health Dr. Andrew Mulwa said the policy is meant to align reproductive health with provisions of the constitution as expounded in article 43 on the right to the highest attainable standards of healthcare.
“The document will guide the delivery of reproductive health services needed by the public,” observed Mulwa.
According to the Head of the Family Health Department in the Health Ministry, Dr. Bashir Issak, the covid-19 pandemic exposed the country’s underbelly and associated challenges with teen pregnancies on the rise in the country.
“We can no longer operate in a vacuum. We will need to walk the implementation process together.” Submitted Dr. Bashir.