Opinion

Helping Families in the Horn of Africa to Make Better Choices

21 October 2011
Author: UNFPA

I was pleased to learn that Hawa Ali, a 27 year old woman whom I met at a maternity shelter in Garissa, in Northern Kenya, recently delivered triplets. Hawa had been in the shelter for four months because of the high risks associated with her pregnancy. Dozens of other mothers who also arrived in the shelter were weakened because of the lack of food, coming from remote villages where there is no access to medical care. It is great to know that thanks to our efforts, Hawa was able to get a caesarean and the postnatal care she needs.

UNFPA’s implementing partner, the Kenyan Red Cross, has been offering women in the region a wide range of reproductive health care services, including the distribution of clean delivery kits in the eventuality that women cannot give birth in a health facility.

Hawa and her husband, who already have nine children, were also counselled by UNFPA’s partners about voluntary family planning methods. Due to her current circumstances, Hawa chose to use long-term family planning through the use of implants.

Despite regular food shortages and high infant mortality, the Horn of Africa’s population has more than doubled since it was hit by major droughts in 1974, spurred by factors such as limited contraceptive use and a tradition of large families.

In times of crisis when skilled birth attendance and emergency obstetric care may not be readily available, an unplanned pregnancy can be fatal.

Read the full piece on the BMJ Group Blog

Kenya
Population:
45.5 mil
  • Fertility rate
    4.4
  • Maternal Mortality Ratio
    400
  • Contraceptives prevalence rate
    45
  • Population aged 10-24
    32%
Youth secondary school enrollment:
Boys 52%
Girls 48%