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MoH, Stop this unconstitutional document, it is an illegal SRH Policy. We want a Reproductive health policy, not a Bible!

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Ministry of health policies, must be informed by science, evidence and facts. We want a Reproductive health policy, not a Bible! Policies should not in any way be reflective of people’s religious biases and stands. Personal biases from religion, culture should in no way affect access, provision of informationon health including reproductive health issues.

The proposed National Reproductive Health Policy 2020-2030is particularly problematic because it neither meets the progressive ideals contained in the 2010 Constitution nor lives up to its self-proclaimed goal of “the highest reproductive health status for all Kenyans”. If it has a surviving chance, the Ministry of Health needs to go back to the drawing board and ensure that all the relevant stakeholders are included in drafting the policy, and that the policy addresses all the reproductive health needs of Kenyans in their diversities.

In Kenya, Abortion is not illegal. It is guided by Article 26 (4). MoH left out key voices of doctors and nurses when drafting this policy. Without policy guidance on when and how to offer safe abortion, they will only remain in the dark and we will continue to loose young girls and women from these preventable deaths. The draft Reproductive health policy has been rejected by young people, medical associations, civil society amongst other groups.

Amongst the reasons for rejecting the policy is: The Reproductive health policy 2022-2032 overwrites and overrules good existing health policies. The RH policy ignores ministry’s own policies on many critical issues such as Menstrual hygiene, Adolescent package care, National Family planning guidelines amongst other progressive policies that provide for an enabling environment.

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The RH policy is selective and excludes key reproductive health issues. The policy completely invisibilizes key issues connected to reproductive health such as mental health (postpartum depression), exclusion of sex workers as a critical vulnerable population, post-abortal care, menstrual hygiene amongst other issues. The policy is filled with a lot of religious language that excludes Kenyans who are not part of a stereotypical nuclear family. The policy ignores bodily autonomy and individual efforts to advance sexual and reproductive health. Article 10 (2) of the Constitution of Kenya articulates our national values which include advancement of human rights, human dignity andnon-discrimination.

The process had no public participation and input of critical stakeholders which remains critical in any policy formulation process. Civil Society amongst other stakeholders requested for an audience with the Ministry of health over the policy and yet nothing changed in the content of the document. This is despite the same MOH previously suspending abortion guidelines for lack of sufficient participation by all stakeholders.

The draft policy is also riddled with problematic language that places blame on survivors of sexual violence. Clause 2.3.3 argues that adolescents have increased HIV infections due to “failure to resist forced sex from partners”. The policy also encourages out of court settlements for gender-based violence which contradicts the position taken by the Sexual Offences Act.

Nothing for us without us. Down with impunity. MOH must go back to the drawing table. We demand intentional, meaningful and deliberate inclusion of young people in all our diversities. Adults do not speak for the adolescents and young people.

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Alvin Mwangi

Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Youth Specialist

Nairobi, Kenya

Twitter: @alvinmwangi254


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