Reproductive Health

Consider this: Nashiru, a practitioner of female genital mutilation (FGM) in a Maasai community in Kenya, says, "Cutting girls is something our people have done for hundreds of years. No one can convince us that it is wrong."

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Unmasking the reed dance

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It was a conversation that started with the King and the reed dance, and I was curious to understand from the Swazi people what actually takes place during this great event that captures world headlines.

Haemorrhage, complications from hypertension in pregnancy, sepsis and abortion complications are the leading cause of maternal deaths in Kenya, says Dr Bartilol Kigen, the Head Reproductive and Maternal Health Services Unit at the Ministry of Health.

Globally, the maternal mortality ratio has declined by 47 percent over the past two decades, from 400 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 210 in 2010.

More lives of women giving birth will be saved when the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) increases its support towards maternal health.

Despite the millions of shillings that the Government and developing partners have been pumping into family planning programmes in the country, there is not much to show for it.

"I had stopped circumcising women in 1999 after encountering many challenges but I went back to the business in 2003. During this time, there were so many people who were in need of the services I used to offer and the money was good," says the 72 year old Qali Hassan in Dadaab village, Northern Kenya. 

Northern Kenya is quickly turning into haven for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) where scores of innocent girls are brought in from Europe, Australia and America to face the illegal cut.

Experts have noted with concern that the five major killers of pregnant women have not been tackled. Among these is stigma and fear of abortion which is a silent killer.

In achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) number five, experts note that the five must be addressed. They also say that unsafe abortion must be given prominence because of the silence over its role as the major cause of the stigma.

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