Bungoma: Father of 12 shares why he opted for vasectomy

In the Sikata area in Bumula, Bungoma County, 37-year-old Boniface Ngashira, a member of the Bukusu community, which advocates large families, is the only known man in the village to have had a vasectomy.

The procedure is a permanent method of family planning for men in which the seminal ducts are tied to prevent the release of sperm during sex. His journey to this final decision follows more than a decade of trying to have a son.

Ngashira had his firstborn daughter at the age of 16 through his girlfriend, who later became his wife. They would have three more children together, all girls.

After the birth of their fourth child, a dissatisfied Ngashira went out of wedlock in search of a son.

“I really wanted a son, so I went looking for one. Because in our culture it is believed that a son helps his father to protect the family. However, I had eight more daughters and eventually realised that I was wrong and that all children are equal,” he explains.

“My oldest daughter is 21 and the youngest is two. As well as struggling to take care of my 12 children, my wife was also struggling with her family planning methods, which led to excessive bleeding and some illnesses. When I heard that vasectomy was being offered at my local clinic, I jumped at the opportunity,” he adds.

He explains that he first offered his wife, Lilian Waswa, a bilateral tubal ligation to tie her fallopian tubes, but she refused, saying she wouldn’t accept it as long as he was dating other women.

She changed her mind, however, when she realised that her husband had many illegitimate children, which she would learn about when their mothers came to her house. Sometimes she would learn of two cases in a year.

“If he had had a son with another woman, I would have been depressed, but God intervened. At one point, I decided to tie my tubes, but when I went to the local health centre, the services were not available. Vasectomy was, and I told him. He made plans and underwent the procedure,” she said.

Speaking at the World Vasectomy Day celebrations at Bungoma County Referral Hospital last Friday, Dr Edward Serem, Head of Maternal and Reproductive Health at the Ministry of Health (MOH), cited myths and misconceptions as the main reason for the low uptake of vasectomy services in Bungoma and the country in general.

To address this, he announced that county governments will train community health promoters on family planning to educate the community and dispel myths about family planning methods. They will then refer cases to hospitals that have the capacity to provide them.

In Kenya, Busia, Lamu and Bungoma counties have the highest number of vasectomies, according to the 2022 Kenya Demographic Health Survey.

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