Mombasa diary | Controlling HIV and unwanted pregnancies [video, slideshow]

The key to controlling HIV and unwanted pregnancies lies in the proper use of contraception, Christine Kisaka says.

Although sexual education may be considered second nature in some European countries, sub-Saharan Africa still lacks the general education that can stop the spread of infectious disease as well as the thousands of unwanted pregnancies that occurs on an everyday basis.

The German Foundation for World Population (DSW), a partner company of the Maltese charitable institution SOS Malta, provides such education to youths in Kenya from their Mombasa and Nairobi offices. They also put pressure on the government to make practices accessible to youths, as youths make up over 60% of the population.

Christine Kisaka, programme officer for DSW in Nairobi explains a situation where government was distributing free condoms from health clinics and hospitals although youths were uninterested in using this free service.

“Our research showed that youths did not make use of this service due to packaging of the condoms. They were distributed in large rolls that youths felt embarrassed to carry around.

“Pressure on the government saw the repackaging of condoms in packs of three or four that made it possible for them to slip into their pockets and take home to use. The results were so remarkable that dispensers filled in the morning were always emptied by the afternoon.”

MediaToday journalists Julia Farrugia and Rachel Zammit Cutajar are in Mombasa, Kenya, where they are participating in the “Save Women’s Lives” campaign hosted by the German Foundation for World Population and SOS Malta to bring to light the difficulties plaguing women and young children in sub-Saharan Africa.

Just 2 metres away from a local hospital, one man earns a living by selling child coffins. Maternal mortality of all health indicators, unveils the greatest disparity between the developed and developing countries.

Every year in Kenya there are 488 deaths per 100,000 birth rates. Figures do not include those who die at home – mostly attended by unskilled traditional birth attendants.

As Dr Anisa Omar, Provincial Director of Public Health and Sanition puts it “figures are alarming”. Despite Millennium Goals and all,  figures are soaring up. In 2003, the Kenyan situation was better at 415 deaths per 100,000 live births.