Three mothers in their early twenties astounded the Huduma Poa demand creation team after travelling over 12 km to attend a Huduma Poa Day in what they termed as search for long term family planning.
Alice Akinyi 23, Tabitha Awuor 24 and Caroline Adoyo 26 weathered a long journey on a treacherous road from Kadongo village to Kopanga Dispensary where the USAID supported Huduma Poa team was offering subsidised health services.
Tabitha, a mother of one said she has for a long time sought a contraceptive method that can serve her for several years as she intends to carefully space her children but the nearest and the only health facility to her is a government run dispensary that offers only short term methods of family planning.
Buttressing Tabitha’s sentiments, Alice also a mother of one said they decided to come all the way since they understood the benefits of planning their families.
“We are living in hard economic times and it is only wise to have a family that you can ably provide for,” opined Alice.
The trio said they got the good news of Huduma Poa providing long term contraceptive services from one of the community health workers (CHWs) attached at Kopanga Dispensary.
Beatrice Akinyi, KMET/Huduma Poa field officer explains the various methods of contraception available for women at Kopanga Dispensary
Alice Akinyi, Tabitha Awuor andCaroline Adoyo alight from one of KMET/Huduma Poa Vehicles which offered them a ride on their way home
One of the key features of creating demand for health services within the Huduma Poa Social franchise is enhancing contraceptive knowledge among health service consumers using CHWS.
Mr.Abok Barnabas, a Huduma Poa Quality Assurance Officer says that while educating the community,CHWS and the KMET demand creation team always grapple with demystify myths and misconception associated with family planning but the three mothers were different.
“They knew what they wanted and why. They just had no access to comprehensive contraceptive services and that is what Huduma Poa has availed,” added Mr.Abok who was among the health service providers during the event.
39 year old Beatrice Achieng says she has tried it all. She has used both modern and traditional methods of contraception but they have all failed her. She is a mother of seven.
She has brought along with her two of her daughters; the fifth born- a girl of six years and the last born an infant of one month.
She wants to stop giving birth forever.
We are at Lidha Dispensary in the heart of Gem constituency, Siaya County- a county with the third highest total fertility rate in Nyanza region of Kenya. Siaya registers a total fertility rate of 4.2 against the national of 3.9.
Beatrice is married and sells mandazi (buns) by the roadside to make a living. The husband too is not employed; he takes care of their small family garden where they grow some local vegetables and maize to feed the family.
She once used the three-month injectable contraceptive after bearing the fourth child but it had a lot of uncomfortable side effects so she stopped, during which she conceived her fifth child. She tried using a traditional method afterwards but it too failed resulting into the birth of her sixth child.
“After I gave birth to this girl the nurse advised me to use the Coil, but later on it gave me a lot of problems”, Beatrice narrates. She experienced heavy bleeding and was initiated on a regimen of oral contraceptive pills to control the bleeding. This failed and the method was removed.
At the time of removal, the dispensary was experiencing a temporary stock out of implants so no other method was available for her. She was told to come back after a few weeks. She didn’t but instead sought counsel of a different traditional healer.
After paying 200 Kenya shillings she was given a cupful of boiled herbs which she was instructed to drink half and hang the other half on either the kitchen or bedroom roof. This was early 2014. She complied even though without the husband’s knowledge.
“You know how you men can be very difficult with such issues, I just decided to do all these things on my own for the sake of peace,” she responds to my inquiry as to why the husband was not in the picture.
Unfortunately Beatrice got pregnant once again and bore her seventh child. Life has become almost unbearable she says. Five of the children are in primary school and they cannot pay the entire fee needed.
“We don’t even know how our children perform in school, their report-forms have been held by the school until we pay up the fees for the term,” she somberly says.
Her first born daughter who is now 17 years left for the city (Kisumu) and they hardly communicate. Some relatives meet her once in a while in town but she doesn’t have a phone.
Today she wanted the nurse to tie her womb (sic) but she has been disappointed. The nurse has advised her that the procedure can only be done in Yala Sub County Referral Hospital which is a long distance away. The nearest private facility charges 2000 Kenya Shillings. She can never afford that she says.
She is taken in for counseling by one of the KMET Huduma Poa Quality Assurance Officers who was available on site. This was a joint health event day between the ministry of health and KMET.
Thirty minutes later she comes out and tells me she has chosen the three year implant as a temporary measure. We exchange contacts and part ways. But before that, she says if all had worked in her favor, she would have had four children maximum.
I called her on April 9th 2015, she was in her Shamba. Her last born baby is doing great, she is three months old now she says and most importantly she has not experienced any problem with the contraceptive, yet.
Emmanuel Oyier-Marketing Officer, KMET
Picture: Beatrice Achieng, left and her fifth born daughter resting under a tree at Lidha Dispensary.