Kenya

Kenya: Reproductive Health and Abortion

  • Legality:
    • Abortion is allowed when provided by a trained health professionals, if the pregnant woman or girl needs emergency treatment, her mental or physical health or life is in danger, in the case of rape, or if indicated by any other written law (e.g., an act of parliament such as the one addressing the management of sexual violence and rape, Health act 2017, or the Maputo protocol).
    • Abortion is not allowed in cases of incest, fetal impairment, socioeconomic challenges, or upon request.
  • Contraception:
    • While the government provides more than half of contraceptives at no cost, stock-outs are common and can include shortages of the injectable, the most popular method with limited availability due to provision regulations.
    • Many women do not have the resources to purchase contraceptives.
    • Women in rural settings, urban slums, and informal settlement have the highest unmet need for contraceptives, as they often lack sufficient public services and the private-sector may not offer adequate or accurate services and information and may be costly.
    • From 2007-2012, 43% of births were unwanted or mistimed.
    • More than 70% of women seeking post abortion care were not using a method of contraception prior to becoming pregnant.
  • Complications:
    • Unsafe abortion remains a leading cause of maternal morbidity and mortality.
    • Abortion access in public health facilities is limited due to the lack of a clear policy on abortion in Ministry of Health facilities. Only women with financial resources may access safe abortions in the private sector.
    • Treatment of unsafe abortion consumes significant health systems resources.
    • ~464,690 abortions occurred at a rate of 48 abortions per 1,000 women, and an induced abortion ratio of 30 abortions per 100 births (2012).
    • ~ 119,912 women received care for complications from induced abortion, which is approximately a 24% complication rate (2012).
    • Severe complications were most common among women aged 10-19 (45%), divorced women (56%), and women who reported that they had interfered with the continuation of the pregnancy (58%).
      • Note: Women who sought abortions were heterogeneous socially, demographically, economically, and religiously, and in terms of education, employment, marital status, and urban and rural.
  • Sources:
    • https://www.guttmacher.org/report/incidence-and-complications-unsafe-abortion-kenya
    • https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/ib_unsafeabortionkenya.pdf
    • www.un.org/esa/population/publications/abortion/doc/kenya.doc

Doctors for Choice Kenya: Recent Accomplishments

Doctors for Choice Kenya Drs. Nyamu and Karanja lead the movement to liberalize abortion and increase access within Kenya.

 

Doctors for Choice Kenya trains healthcare providers on the legality of abortion and post-abortion care.

The Doctors for Choice Kenya team shares their expertise globally, including how to build capacity to improve services at The Research Council of Norway.

Doctors for Choice Kenya urges the liberalization of abortion in order to provide comprehensive reproductive health services and respect bodily autonomy and well-being.

 

Doctors for Choice Kenya: Leadership

Dr. Joseph Karanja serves as the Chairman, Dr. Anne Kihara serves as the Secretary, and Dr. John Nyamu serves as the Treasurer and Coordinator of this physician-advocacy group.

The Kenya Doctors for Choice team consists of a handful of closely connected, key advocates for reproductive health.

 

Doctors for Choice Kenya: Lead Doctor Profiles

Dr. John Nyamu

A consultant gynecologist with over 20 years of specializing in reproductive health, Dr. Nyamu operates a private practice in Nairobi. As the National Chairman of Reproductive Health Network, a network of over 400 private practitioners, he offers mentorship and supportive supervision targeting surgical contraception and comprehensive abortion care. He has trained over 400 private practitioners in Kenya in insertion and removal of contraceptive implants, including clinicians from Reproductive Health Network and Family Health Options Kenya. Additionally, he has also worked with Catholics for Choice to train doctors in communication and abortion values.

In addition to coaching doctors, Dr. Nyamu has been the lead advocate in the formulation of Ministry of Health policy documents on prevention and management of unsafe abortion, was instrumental in the registration of the first combipack for use in medical abortion (Medabon), and has promoted the use of Misoprostol and medical abortion drugs in the community, especially the use by the young women in colleges and universities.

 

 

Dr. Anne Beatrice Kihara

Since 1999, Dr. Kihara has served as a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist in public and private hospitals in Kenya. She serves both as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Nairobi in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and provides leadership in the mentorship program of undergraduates and postgraduates in medical school. After six years in leadership, Dr. Kihara is now the President Emeritus of the Kenya Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (KOGS) and is the in-coming President of the Arab-African Federation of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AFOG).

She is constantly in pursuit to provide leadership in women’s health through advocacy, policy, and quality service delivery. She has several scientific publications and been a key note speaker on many occasions both within Kenya and internationally.

 

 

 

Professor Joseph Gatheru Karanja, MD

A professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Kenya, Dr. Karanja teaches and provides supervision, mentorship, and guidance to undergraduate medical students and residents. He also serves as a lead trainer in comprehensive abortion care at the University of Kenya and for continuous education for in-service mid-level healthcare providers, and is a Master Trainer through the JHPIEGO program.  His commitment to advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights has been an evident throughout his career and he is dedicated to inspiring his students and trainees to take up the cause. Dr. Karanja has published widely in respected journals.

 

 

 

 

 

Advocating for access to safe reproductive health care.