By Christine Lagat NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Countries in the East African region on Tuesday
launched a new initiative to revitalize family planning services
through increased funding, policy reforms and grassroots
health campaigners attended the launch of The Challenge
Initiative (TCI) which is supported by bilateral donors and
foundations to expand access to contraceptives among women of
child bearing age in the region.
Secretary for planning and devolution, Mwangi Kiunjuri said the
launch of a home grown initiative to reactivate family planning
services is timely as the east African region grapples with
rapid population growth.
Initiative will ensure women have access to modern
contraceptives, reduce maternal deaths and enhance women’s
participation in economic development in this region,” Kiunjuri
Under the new
initiative, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzanian governments will commit
new resources to expand family planning services in the
underserved urban slums and rural areas against a backdrop of
declining external support.
The Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation provided initial funding towards establishment
of the TCI that seeks to harness domestic financing to ensure
women and girls in poor settings have access to birth control
Kiunjuri said Kenya
is committed to investing in family planning services to reduce
a high number of women having unintended pregnancies.
“It will be
mandatory for every county to set a budget for family planning
services to complement support from development partners,” said
Kiunjuri, adding there is a political goodwill to revitalize
family planning services in Kenya.
The uptake of modern
contraceptives among women and girls in Kenya stood at 57
percent in 2016 compared to 39 percent and 30 percent in Uganda
and Tanzania respectively.
Kiunjuri said the
government is committed to addressing inequitable access to
birth control options linked to under-investments, cultural
taboos, poverty and ignorance.
East African states
have prioritized investments in family planning services in
order to reap from a demographic dividend.
The Ugandan Minister
of State for Health, Sarah Opendi said that universal coverage
for modern contraceptives will have spin-off effects on the
economy and society in the region.
“By investing in
high impact birth control interventions, the health and economic
outcomes in this region will be profound,” Opendi said.
She revealed that
Uganda aims to achieve 50 percent family planning coverage by
2020 while the east African nation has managed to reduce unmet
needs from 34 to 28 percent.