Marie Stopes Kenya, a non-governmental organization that conducts free family planning programs across the country, recently conducted a tremendously informative workshop at our community in Kasigau. More than 100 employees attended, 22 of which benefited directly from the free reproductive health services offered by MSK.
These reproductive health services, including family planning services and cervical cancer screenings, were entirely sponsored by Wildlife Works. Although made available by other members of the health industry, the cost of these services often prohibits employees from being able to take advantage of them.
Apart from the high costs associated with most family planning services, lack of information and access to birth control methods propagates a cycle of poverty for many communities across Kenya. This is especially evident among families in rural areas who are dependent on a declining agricultural livelihood and struggle to raise larger families. Wildlife Works was happy to invite Marie Stopes into our community to provide access to health education.
Lessons taught in the workshop included various long-term and short-term reproductive options available for both women and men. For instance, the use of implants was particularly recommended as opposed to the use of injectables, as they contain less artificial hormones and carry far less side effects. Use of intrauterine devices was also discussed among the list of safe methods. For families searching for a permanent solution, health officials from Marie Stopes recommended the use of tubal ligation or a vasectomy. The training session was largely interactive and effective at diminishing some of the myths that surround family planning methods in Kenya.
Peninah Wavinya Kyonda, a single mother of 32 who works as a machinist in the Wildlife Works eco factory, considers the workshop an eye-opener in her quest for a safe and effective birth control method. “I have been thinking about family planning for a long time but doubts and fears of which family planning method is the safest to use always made me hesitate. I can now make an informed choice after the workshop conducted by Marie Stopes,” she said.
Peninah would also have liked to get screened for cervical cancer. Unfortunately, there was insufficient cervical screening equipment on that day and only a few employees were able to get the free test. She hopes she will have a chance to get a test through Marie Stopes in the future.
Dr. Nickson Nyakundi, who was leading the Marie Stopes team, was impressed by attendance and declared the program an immense success. He also said that additional similar workshops are essential if the country is to realize Kenya’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which include environmental sustainability, improved maternal healthcare, reduction of child mortality rates, achievement of universal primary education and eradication of extreme hunger and poverty. Fortunately, Dr. Nickson Nyakundi assured us that the organization will be conducting a similar workshop in July.