The Ministry of Health(MoH) has sounded out a warning against the use of Chinese herbal contraceptives.

MoH National Family Planning Programme Manager Albert Ndwiga said the pills are not only illegal in Kenya but they cause adverse side effects.

The pill, taken once a month, is sold over the counter as a herbal contraceptive without the approval of the sector’s regulator, the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB).

It goes for between Sh200 and Sh500, depending on the manufacturer. Popularly known as Sofia, the pill was banned from the Kenyan market in 2009.

“They are sold under the guise that they are herbal to mean they have been manufactured from natural ingredients but from our research, they have been reported to cause adverse side effects to the women and the children they give birth to,” said Dr Ndwiga.

He said tests conducted by the University of Nairobi showed the birth control pills contain high levels of harmful chemicals.

“Children born by such mothers present secondary sexual characteristics at a very early age with young girls developing breasts, some have enlarged breasts and an abnormally shaped uterus.

“For boys, they fail to develop their sexual characteristics. Children below three years also get slurred speech and unending pain in the muscles,” said Ndwiga.

He spoke during a breakfast meeting organised by the Ministry of Health ahead of World Contraception Day(Monday, 26 September).

Dr Andrew Mulwa, the Acting Director of Medical Services, Head Directorate Preventive and Promotive Health, noted that the Chinese herbal contraceptives are a booming business run by a criminal syndicate that brings the pills into the country through the porous borders.

“The criminal enterprise is complicated and they will easily bypass the watch of the security agencies since they use uncouth means to ship in the drugs. The pills are harmful to our women and they should stop using them,” warned Dr Mulwa.