WHO: Let teens have birth control tools

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By ANGELA OKETCH
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The World Health Organisation wants adolescents to have access to contraceptives without their parents’ consent.

The WHO says that would ensure adolescents’ sexual and reproductive needs are taken care of.

A study “Selected Practice Recommendations for Contraceptive Use” says adolescents lack adequate access to contraceptive information and services.

“There is an urgent need to implement programmes that meet the contraceptive needs of adolescents and remove barriers to services,” says the study released in December.

“Adolescents are eligible to use the same methods of contraception as adults and must have access to a variety of choices. Age alone does not constitute a reason for denying any method to adolescents.”

Parents, education officials and religious leaders are up in arms against the Health and Care Bill 2014 that is still pending at the Senate.

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The Bill seeks to provide children as young as 10 access to contraceptives and family planning services.

The proposed law, prepared by Wiper Nominated Senator Judith Sijeny, defines an adolescent as anyone between the ages of 10 and 17.

According to the Bill, anyone who prevents adolescents from getting the education and services would be liable to a Sh200,000 fine or a three-year jail sentence if convicted.

Anglican Church of Kenya Mumias Bishop Beneah Salala accused senators of attempting to impose their views on Kenyans. He called for a nationwide debate before the Bill is debated.

According to the WHO, about 21 million girls between 15 and 19 in developing countries get pregnant every year. Nearly half the pregnancies — or 49 per cent — are unintended.

It also says that 38 million girls are at risk of pregnancy but do not want a child in the next two years, yet only 40 per cent are using a modern contraception method.

Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the second cause of death for adolescent girls globally.

Every year, more than three million girls procure unsafe abortions. Babies born to adolescents face a substantially higher risk of dying than those born to women aged 20 and 24, says the WHO.

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