Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Kiribati celebrated World Vasectomy Day for the first time this year, with the Kiribati Family Health Association (KFHA) spreading important messages about vasectomy to men in South Tarawa and the outer islands.
World Vasectomy Day presented a great opportunity for KFHA to reach a group of I-Kiribati men who are not usually targeted in family planning health promotion activities: married fathers with children.
In Kiribati, about one in 23 married men has had a vasectomy, but tubal ligation (permanent contraception for women) is still more popular – despite it being more invasive, expensive and difficult.
In a 2015 study about contraception use in South Tarawa, only 18% of men and 3% of women were able to identify vasectomy as a form of contraception.
This highlights why KFHA’s work promoting vasectomy is so important.
To celebrate World Vasectomy Day, KFHA organised an interview on Radio Kiribati with several married couples who have had a vasectomy. They spoke about why they chose to have a vasectomy and why they think it’s important.
KFHA’s Healthy Families Project manager, Tamoa Moannata, and youth officer Abitara Tekeke were also interviewed and spoke about vasectomy as a form of permanent contraception, and the activities that were taking place for World Vasectomy Day.
These interviews were broadcast to thousands of men and their families across Kiribati’s 21 inhabited islands.
KFHA also ran an after-hours clinic and held a series of health promotion activities around South Tarawa to raise awareness of vasectomy.
One of the nurses who performs vasectomies in South Tarawa is Amota Tebao. He has been a nurse for 31 years, and has worked at KFHA for the last six years.
He says in Kiribati, most vasectomies are carried out in patients’ homes, rather than in clinics or in hospitals. “Men feel more comfortable in their homes,” says Mr Tebao.
“We use the non-scalpel method of vasectomy, and it takes about one hour to complete the procedure.”
By providing free vasectomies and having KFHA nurses travel to people's homes, KFHA is removing the barriers that can exist for men wanting to get a vasectomy.
Mr Tebao says another male nurse was also just recently recruited to the organisation, which is great news for KFHA continuing to provide vasectomies.
KFHA’s nurses and health promoters are also trying to break down some of the myths that surround vasectomy in Kiribati.
Mr Tebao says men often worry that it will affect their sex drive, will be really painful, or that it will cause lots of bleeding, but he’s able to talk to them about what vasectomy really entails.
In his experience, many men choose vasectomy because their wives struggle with other methods of contraception or have medical problems, and tubal ligation is known to be more difficult and painful.
That’s why vasectomy is often called ‘an act of love’ - men stepping up for their wives by taking on the role of family planning and getting the snip.
Tekeraoi am World Vasectomy Day!
KFHA’s Healthy Families Project is funded by the New Zealand Aid Programme.
A vasectomy client being interviewed for the radio.
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