As a technical advisor in the Kenya Urban Reproductive Health Initiative, a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and led by Jhpiego, I spearheaded the design and implementation of service deliver innovations that saw an 11-pecentage point increase in contraceptive prevalence rate among 5 urban poor cities in Kenya. I also supported the training and capacity-building for over 580 private sector facilities in Kenya to include family planning services in their clinics as well as improve the quality of services.
Currently I lead a team on Accelerating Scale up of Impacts, another Gates Foundation-funded project aimed at fast-tracking efforts to introduce and strengthen family planning services by increasing the quantity of contraceptive implants and reduce their cost.
I got interested in family planning during my nursing school days after I misadvised a client (who happened to be a health worker) and she ended up having an unwanted pregnancy. I was doing a rotation at the family planning clinic in one of the largest hospitals in the country, and I gave wrong information about the effectiveness of the available family planning methods. Interestingly, the child, after being born, was named after me.
One of the biggest challenges is provision of contraceptive services to adolescents and young people. I have worked with youth groups to organize dialogue and action days to inform and provide services to youth. Through the Kenya Urban Reproductive Health Initiative, also known as “Tupange,” we developed an information booklet to address family planning myths and misconceptions. The booklet has been quite successful and has been adapted by many other programs.
With the current devolution/decentralization of health services to the county level, securing funding for family planning has become increasing difficult. There are inadequate resources to purchase commodities and there is a significant dependence on donors to meet the shortfall, which is not sustainable. Additional advocacy efforts need to be made to leadership at national and local level to prioritize investment in family planning.
I want to support the youth of Kenya, especially those in poor urban areas, to access a family planning method of their choice, with full information and by a service provider that is competent, respectful and cares for their needs. I also want to work with the Ministry of Health at the national and local level to ensure that the family planning innovations we develop are sustained after the program has ended for maximum impact.