Dr. Diana Atwine, the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, has pointed out the need for all families and households to table and discuss matters as concerns adolescent, youth and reproductive health issues regardless of rural or urban set ups.
Dr. Atwine made these remarks while addressing attendees during the Reproductive, Maternal, New-born and Child Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) Summit which was held at Imperial Royal Hotel on Saturday August 8.
The 2020 RMNCAH Youth summit was championed by the Ministry of Health, Naguru Teenage Centre and many other organisations.
This year’s theme was ‘Leveraging local government structures to address persistent SHRH challenges of a young population for national development’.
Dr. Atwine mentioned that schools create a safer environment for the young people since they are always busy and have something to focus on unlike now when they are closed, exposing the youth and adolescents to numerous reproductive health issues.
“But once children are at home especially in urban areas, they are facing bigger threats during Covid-19, more than before, with more health challenges,” she said.
She also advised that it is important for people to create and instill strong family values in the young people and that challenges of adolescent health should be addressed at the household level regardless of their social status.
Prof Francis Omaswa, the Executive Director of African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST), in his key note address, said that since the youth are the majority of Uganda’s population, they should be taken care of.
Omaswa, however, noted that the solutions for the youth should be tailored for two groups; those in urban areas and rural areas.
He also said that more awareness on reproductive health and the respective issues should be raised and leaders should be held accountable on what is taking place in their areas of duty, “Structures do exist, only that there is no implementation of good policies to make them work.”
“Unless Africa takes the issues of youth seriously, we are headed for disaster,” he stressed.
Faith Mairah, the Youth Country coordinator of SRHR Alliance said, “there is no representation of young people on most of those structures.”
She added that for the case of the parish planning committees; which are the lowest in different villages, the people in the leadership positions are probably above 50 years of age and they mainly discuss sustainability issues and well-being of the elderly, sidelining the youth.
Elizabeth Kemigisha Nabaasa, a social behavioral change communication specialist said that 50% of the population being under 15, 22% under 24 years, the issues of the youth should be handled seriously.
During the summit, it was discussed that ensuring that people have access to the contraceptive services they need also reduces avoidable pressures on the health system to manage the consequences of unintended pregnancies among adolescent girls.