Mercy June Kiiru

Mercy June Kiiru - 2019 Nominee
Position: Program Officer
Current Location: Siaya, Kenya
Degree in Public Health from Kenyatta University
Additional Degrees and Certifications:
Diploma in Clinical Medicine and Surgery
Mercy's role working with adolescents in OTZ project has expanded Family Planning knowledge, increased school completion rates and won support from parents of over 1,000 adolescent girls (15-24yrs) to access FP services in Siaya County, Kenya. – TOM OLUDHE, Founder and Executive Director at AfyaElimu Community Based Organization
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

While working with adolescents and young women living with HIV, Operation Tripple Zero plus 'Zidisha' focuses on having all young women being thoroughly and routinely assessed for pregnancy intentions and offered with long term methods of contraception. These women are at highest risk of dropping out of school, transmitting the virus to their infants and maternal deaths if unintended pregnancies occur. OTZ plus clubs run on a monthly basis, it is here that the young women are educated on sex education, a topic that is a taboo in the Siaya community thus dispel myths and empower the HIV infected women to make informed decisions on their reproductive health while giving them a chance to pursue life goals. This has led to >95% adherence to HAART, retention in the clinic and in school.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

I got pregnant in my 1st year of college, i differed for a year. At then, i knew nothing about sex or contraception. This activated my desire to empower adolescent girls and young women on the importance of safe sex and use of family planning to help achieve long life goals. More so for the HIV infected young women, by using family planning, they are able to plan their pregnancies and choose when to be pregnant when their immune status is stable thus prevent maternal-infant transmission of HIV.

Give one or two examples of how you display leadership in your family planning work.:

I directly support the adolescent HIV clinics(OTZ) where we hold exchange discussions, Expressive Art Therapy and by educating them on reproductive health matters, we have notably seen better retention on HIV care and improved immune status.
Capacity building of healthcare workers and a proactive water tight Pregnancy Intention Assessment on all young women(15-24years), individualized counselling and access to long term family planning methods has seen a better retention in education.

If you are named a winner of 120 under 40, how will you use this new platform and the $1000 grant to advance your work? :

-Make provisions for continuous supply of family planning commodities
-Capacity build HCWs
-Scale up public private partnerships,make FP affordable to all women
-Avail Informative Educative materials on reproductive health in HIV
-Conduct a multi-sectoral stakeholder engagement(Health, Education, Judiciary, County government, other partners on women advocacy) and lobby for Adolescent health policy inclusion in Siaya
-Lobby to set up Youth Friendly Centres in 13 major sub-county hospitals.

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