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Provision of family planning commodities amid COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing tremendous disorder to health systems around the world, disrupting global supply chain of essential reproductive health commodities and supplies, hindering access to family planning services and information for many women and girls of reproductive age. Despite these interruptions, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) ensures there’s continuous supply of these essential reproductive health supplies and family planning commodities to the Government through the Ministry of Health in an effort to address the unmet need for family planning for women and adolescent girls. Since the first Covid positive case was reported in March, UNFPA has donated assorted family planning contraceptives including 1.6 million female condoms, Jadelle Implants, DMPA contraceptive injection and levoplants. The UNFPA Country Representative Dr. Ademola Olajide said the life-saving maternal health medicines and supplies will empower the health care providers to address unwanted pregnancy and childbirth complications consequently averting maternal deaths. “This is part of the UNFPA’s support to the government in ensuring women and girls of reproductive age have access to sexual and reproductive health supplies including lifesaving contraceptives during and even after the COVID-19 pandemic”, he explained. Dr. Olajide further noted that the donation of family planning contraceptives including long term implants will assist nearly 200,000 couples to avert unintended pregnancies in the next twelve months. So far, in 2020, UNFPA has secured $1,863,071, in addition to the $5,058,000 in 2019 to support the Ministry of Health to procure additional contraceptives. Dr. Ademola called on women and girls who have attained the reproductive age to ensure that they continue to seek services in health facilities even during this Covid -19 periods. The government has prioritized family planning as one of the central pillars of reproductive health through the Reproductive Health Programme and Wider National Health priorities as outlined in the Kenya Health Sector Policy and vision 2030. To ensure family planning commodities are accessible to the last mile, UNFPA has mediated a public-private partnership between the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) and Coca-Cola Beverage Africa with an aim to enhanced delivery of SRH (Sexual Reproductive Health) commodities to all parts of the country including those in hard to reach areas. This partnership leverages on Coca Cola’s expertise and use of their models to take essential medicines including RH (Reproductive Health) commodities closer to the community where they are needed most. In addition, UNFPA has also partnered with Health Strat in the development of a mobile-based reporting tool known as QualiPharm for family planning commodities in health facilities at the county and sub-county level. This has led to improvements in quality of data and increased visibility on the status of commodities at facility level. According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey Report 2014, the Contraceptive Prevalence Rate among married women has increased from 46 to 58 percent while there is a decline in unmet need for family planning from 26 to 18 percent in the last decade. The report also indicates a decline in total fertility rate from a high of 4.6 to 3.9 percent on women and girls. Speaking during a handover ceremony of reproductive health commodities and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Ademola noted that access to family planning commodities is crucial for saving lives as well as attaining the demographic dividend and stimulates economic development. “By enabling individuals to choose the number and spacing of their children, family planning has allowed women, and their children, to live healthier, longer lives.” He added.