In an effort to improve family planning outcomes and reduce teen pregnancies, community health promoters play a crucial role. One such dedicated health promoter is Nancy Koelel, who works out of the Olulunga Sub-County Hospital in Narok County, Kenya. Nancy’s unwavering passion for supporting women and advocating for accessible family planning services has made a significant impact in Narok County, which has been receiving support from The Challenge Initiative (TCI) since September 2022.
With Nancy’s extensive knowledge of family planning, she is committed to building a network of promoters by facilitating coaching sessions for her peers. She explained:
By facilitating the coaching sessions, I am able to sensitize my peers on TCI University resources while creating a non-judgmental space for them to share their challenges.”
At an advocacy meeting organized by the National Council for Population Development, the County Reproductive Health Coordinator, Esterine Nenee, highlighted the challenges faced in ensuring access to quality family planning services. Nenee shared:
One particularly alarming statistic was that 13.9% of young adolescents attending antenatal care for the first time were already pregnant.”
Despite the declining modern contraceptive prevalence rate (mCPR), teen pregnancies had remained a persistent challenge. Thanks to coaching provided by TCI, Nancy has been able to engage men, women, and young individuals in conversations about the benefits of family planning. Each month, she actively reaches out to about six households, distributing family planning commodities, and inviting them to avail themselves of family planning services offered during in-reaches and outreaches.
In a patriarchal society like Narok County, it is crucial to involve men because their support is required for successful family planning programs. Nancy emphasized the need to start conversations with men when entering a household.
The conversation is necessary with men – at the slightest knowledge that their women have been to a health facility they palpitate their arms to confirm they did not get any method. There are instances women come back with wounds having been forcefully removed the methods.”
By addressing their concerns and educating them about the benefits of family planning, Nancy has broken down barriers and gained support from men. Recognizing the impact of the community efforts, the county has organized training sessions for other health promoters. By ensuring that more individuals have the capacity to provide services and information on family planning, the county aims to expand its reach and make a greater impact in improving family planning outcomes.
Community health promoters like Nancy are the backbone of family planning advocacy. Their dedication and passion for supporting women and improving access to quality services are instrumental in creating positive change. By addressing challenges, engaging men, and expanding their reach, health promoters will continue to play an essential role in empowering communities and reducing teen pregnancies.