Kenya MOH circular to improve EC access for survivors of sexual violence

In April 2016, Zambia hosted a regional technical meeting, “Harmonizing national abortion and pregnancy prevention laws and policies for sexual violence survivors with the Maputo Protocol”. Representatives attended from six sub-Saharan countries – Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia – along with regional and global experts, convened by Population Council, the World Health Organization, and the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception. This recent article documents the meeting’s proceedings.

As a result, the Kenya delegation drafted a Plan of Action identifying the objective to broaden availability of emergency contraception (EC) in public sector health facilities for improved access by survivors, and proposed a Ministerial Circular on the issue.

On 7 February 2018, the Director of Medical Services in Kenya has sent out a Ministerial Circular (MOH/ADM/1/1/2) to all the 47 county level ministers of health, county directors of health and all health facility management committees. The Council of Governors (the administrative and political leaders of county governments) have also endorsed the circular, critical since the provision of health services is devolved to the counties as per the 2010 Kenya’s Constitution. The circular is being shared by the county leadership within each of the 47 counties.

The circular’s main objective is to reorganize the distribution of EC pills within public health facilities and clinics to improve access and uptake by sexual violence survivors, 24 hours/7 days a week, free of charge, and as quickly as possible for effective use.

Thus, EC pills will now be accessible and available from additional sites (within health facilities) including outpatient, inpatient, and comprehensive care centres. This broadens availability from the usual channel of family planning clinics–usually in a separate location from outpatient clinics and emergency rooms, and only operating during normal business hours.

The circular also highlights the importance of capacity building and continuing medical education for EC.

Please see additional resources on EC for survivors of sexual violence: