KENYA – How two very different NGOs in Kenya are addressing the pandemic

In a detailed blog about what may happen to access to contraceptives and abortion pills during the Covid-19 pandemic as time goes on, Saskia Hüsken of Rutgers NL gives examples of two groups Rutgers works with in Kenya whose ongoing activities, including promoting contraception and safe abortion, have been adapted and continue. 

The Reproductive Health Network Kenya(RHNK) has been campaigning for personal protective equipment for all Kenyan health workers. On 14 April, they describe a recent case at a private facility in Siaya where all the health care workers are now under quarantine after being exposed to one positive case. This underscores the need to protect the very scarce existing resource that we call health service providers.RHNK has also been very involved in the scheduled launch of the national Post-Abortion Care guidelines at the end of March 2020. Because of the lockdown, however, providers will have to wait to receive the scheduled training sessions on the guidelines.

As regards provision of safe contraception and abortion services, Nelly Munyasia, Executive Director of RHNK said: “We are establishing online referral systems through our RHNK network’s social media platforms – from communities to our health providers. We have to ensure continuity of safe abortion services and provision of contraceptives to women and girls in our communities.” 

Saskia Hüskenalso reports how the group Shujaaz Inc has responded swiftly and proactively to the crisis by setting up a special Covid-19 prevention campaign called #LindaFam(Protect Your Family), engaging young people in Kenya and Tanzania. Information on Covid-19 is shared, key themes such as unintended pregnancies are addressed, and their young audience are encouraged to become positive actors of change in their communities. Natasha Kimani, Head of Partnerships and Programmes at Shujaaz says: “End March, we mobilised our team to launch the new #LindaFam campaign across our media platforms in the fight against COVID-19. All four of our Shujaaz [comic book] characters are advocating for the life-saving new health behaviours that our fans must adopt to protect themselves and their families.We have already distributed 800,000 copies of our special edition #LindaFam comic book.”

SOURCES: Saskia Hüsken, Blog: Can She make her safe choice in times of Covid-19?and E-mail 16 April 2016 ; Shujaaz websiteinc photo, 16 April 2020 ; Reproductive Health Network Kenya inc infographic, Facebook14 April 2020