Couples in Kenya are embracing Natural Family Planning (NFP) with the help of a new clinic opened by the pro-life group Human Life International (HLI) Kenya in collaboration with the Catholic Church.
The St Mary Mother of Charity and Consolation Clinic for NFP opened last November in Nyeri, Kenya as part of the pro-life outreach efforts of HLI Kenya. The clinic, which teaches couples the Billings Ovulation Method of NFP, has been embraced by local Catholic Church leaders. The Catholic Church rejects the use of contraception and promotes NFP as the only method of family planning that respects the dignity of human sexuality in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
“We hope mothers who go through this training will pass this knowledge to their daughters,” said Father Raphael Wanjohi, director of HLI Kenya, who is also in charge of the clinical and psychological counseling for the Nyeri Catholic Archdiocese.
The Standard newspaper in Kenya first reported on the efforts of Fr. Wanjohi and the clinic’s staff to help couples understand responsible parenthood while keeping with the teachings of their faith.
“The great advantage of the Billings Ovulation Method (BOM) is that it is very simple, and can be taught even to those with little formal education. It takes only a couple of hours or an afternoon to teach this method, which is based upon the monthly signs their bodies give them,” said Dr. Brian Clowes, director of research and training for HLI. “The BOM is now used by tens of millions of women all around the world, especially in developing countries, and has proven to be a great blessing for women who wish to respect their bodies and God’s plan for their lives.”
Simon Mureithi, one of the NFP trainers at the new clinic, said that the method can also enhance the ability of childless couples to conceive because they are able to identify times in which the wife is most fertile.
“We look at the menstrual cycle from the start to the end to identify infertility, possible fertility and maximum fertility,” said Mureithi. “A woman is trained to sense her infertility or fertility to the point it becomes second nature.”
Embracing NFP in Kenya, and throughout Africa, could also help in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS, along with a reduction in risky sexual behavior. The reason for this is that NFP practitioners emphasize abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage, both of which are essential to lowering STD transmission rates.
According to the United Nations, 6.3% of adults between the ages of 15 and 49 in Kenya are living with HIV. The deadly virus has left 1,200,000 children without parents in the country.
While the “solution” to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa proposed by many international organizations and Western countries has been to promote greater access to contraceptives, significant results in combating AIDS have only been seen in programs that emphasize a behavioral approach over a technological one: abstinence and fidelity, which together reduce the number of sexual partners and thus the risk of exposure.
“Unfortunately, when it comes to the lives of Africans, the Western AIDS Establishment has taken a fatalistic approach,” said Arland K. Nichols, national director of HLI America. “The assumption is that sexual behavior cannot change; such a change is simply unrealistic. Time and again, however, the data reveals that when collaborative efforts by religious, political, and medical leaders are aimed at abstinence and fidelity, HIV infection rates drop significantly.”
Nichols points to the research of scientist Edward C. Green who in his book Broken Promises: How the AIDS establishment Has Betrayed the Developing World notes:
In fact, no one has ever proved any positive impact on national or population-wide HIV infection rates on AIDS in Africa from standard, Western-style interventions. These include not just condom promotion but treatment of sexually transmitted infections, voluntary counseling and testing, diaphragm use, microbicides, “safer sex” counseling, vaccines, and income generation.
“One explanation of this is that condom promotion (and other interventions that don’t involve changing the primary risky behavior) has a tendency to lull people into a false sense of security, encouraging them to engage more often in risky sexual behavior,” said Nichols. “While use of a condom makes a particular sexual act less likely to transmit HIV, risky behavior is chosen more often, leading to an overall increase of risk and a higher rate of infection in the general populace.”
The new NFP clinic in Nyeri is only the first of what Fr. Wanjohi believes will be many new endeavors by HLI Kenya not only to enforce healthy lifestyles among the Kenyan people, but to spread a greater respect for human sexuality and of human life from conception until natural death.