Addressing unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions among youth in Kenya: family health options of Kenya
Wilson Bunde Family Health Options Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya - firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction: The Kenya Demographic Health survey 2008/9 showed that 43% of births in the preceding year were reported by women as unwanted or mistimed. Adolescent women face high risk of unintended pregnancies and therefore unsafe abortions, with devastating consequences for their lives and health. It is estimated that more than half of women with the most severe complications from unsafe abortion are adolescents. Family Health Options of Kenya (FHOK), a Member Association of IPPF, utilized strategies to minimize unsafe abortion among marginalized youth from underserved communities through clinical and community based services. Action: Implemented strategies included recruitment and training of young staff, provision of youth friendly information and services, addressing financial barriers, efforts to mitigate stigma associated with abortion services, and use of innovations such as youth camp and short-messaging system to provide information on adolescent sexual and reproductive health (SRH). Outcome: Following the implementation of these strategies at 4 locations in 2012, FHOK recorded a 61% increase in the number of young clients served for comprehensive abortion care and postabortion care services. Clinic teams have also reported a concomitant increase in the acceptance of contracep-tive services among youth. Qualitative feedback from youth in communities and clinic settings have provided positive feedback on these strategies and increased levels of information among youth. Discussion and Recommendations: Youths are the most sexually active population in Kenya yet are the most neglected group in SRH services initiatives. The lack of adequate information and access to SRH services among youths contributes to the high rates of unintended pregnancies among this group, which in turn forces them to seek unsafe abortion services. Some unique youth-friendly initiatives like the ones described above can increase utilization of services by youths even in situations where such services planning may be sensitive and difficult to address.