Recently, After a number of social media campaigns, protest and petitions shared to the Ministry of Health to stop this process together with its launch, the Ministry of Health, Division of maternal and Reproductive health called in stakeholders to share views on the problematic National Reproductive health policy that was to be launched.
The policy as it was was, was an illegal and unconstitutional document. The old version of the policy did not have adequate engagement of the stakeholders including young people in all their diversities for whom the policy would be addressing their needs. Ministry of health Policies MUST be informed by science, evidence and facts. We want a RH policy not a Bible!
10 years is a Looooong time to suffer with a poorly drafted document that explicitly invisiblises issues that need to be addressed and also leaving out groups of people in the society who continue to be left out and due to socio-economic, health aongst other issues are left with. The Draft RH policy was rejected by all.
The Ministry of health has agreed to go back to the drawing board after a number of submissions were shared yesterday and in the realization that more public and stakeholder engagement is needed, the division responsible for the development of the policy agreed to look into the submissions and amend as agreeable to all. We continue to demand for intentional, meaningful and deliberate inclusion of youth in all their doversities.
Policies, frameworks, guide implementation and coordination of work anywhere and in any sector. Policies are like laws, guides on how to better achieve set objectives and goals of an intended problem or work. Health is one of the sectors that has seen the development of many policies, frameworks and strategies owing to the many social and health issues affecting people in all their diversities. Good wholistoc policies achieve positie reproductive health outcomes.
In Kenya 25% of the Kenyan population comprises youths aged 18-34 years old, 43% of the population falls below the 15 year old age bracket. It is vital that young people play an equal role in decision making spaces and tables. Decisions can also be made by young people, as opposed to adults making decisions for the young people who most of the time do not know what young people want. As it is always said there is nothing for us without us.
Adolescent and Young people are a huge asset in decision making process. In a current ongoing process, The National Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health policy (NASRH) 2015 is also being revised and it remains our call for the Ministry of health to not alienate any people, issues in this constitutional process that guide the priorities of a country in a given time.
Policies should remain wholistic in issues and groups that they serve. Policies should aim to provide strategies that remain in policy making processes, for instance, inadequate awareness on the existence of the policies, inadequate strategies to cater for the “left behind groups” of people like teenage mothers, adolescents, persons with disabilities and the sexual and gender minority groups.
As the Policy review process aims to start, It is important that the Ministry of health from the national level is able to consult wide throughout to the counties and all the way to the communities for them to be able to gather recommendations that are wholistic. Implementation of these beautiful policies remains only but a dream, most of the times they only gather dust as the people they are intended for are being barred to access services and information just because of lack of wide dissemination and sensitization.
We have no future, if we don’t think and invest in the present. Young people are not the future but the present! Meaningfully engaging young people increases the ownership of policies and initiatives, and improves transparency and accountability.
Sexual Reproductive health and rights youth specialist