A report released today by the Uganda youth and adolescent health forum (UYAHF) attributes the high rate of early and unwanted pregnancies among youth in the eastern region to the inadequacy in youth friendly health services in health centers in that region.
Reading the research finding carried out in June this year in the two districts of Pallisa and Busia, the programs manager UYAHF Winfred Apio and Charles Tumwebaze reveal that out of the 10 health centers visited in the two district, only two health facilities had youth friendly corners and were providing youth health services.
The finding further reveal that the facilities had very low contraceptives with little knowledge of their availability and use by most of the youth in the districts.
With the above mentioned youth health gaps, this has created a suitable environment for early and unwanted pregnancies among young girls in the region. As this can be witnessed with high numbers of female learners not returning to school after the lock down was lifted.
A big number of these young and energetic girls have either married off or staying home doing house work.
On launching the report today, Dr. Jessica Nsungwa Sabitti the commissioner reproductive health, maternal and child health admits that the findings and assured the youth of full commitment by government to incorporate the recommendations into the ministry’s new policy guide currently under review.
Dr. Jessica further notes that the acts of early and unwanted pregnancies of girls pause a huge burden to the country’s health and economic sector noting that quick and aggressive solutions need to be administered to avert these problems to save the future of this great nation.
The low uptake of contraceptive among Ugandan youths continues to fuel high pregnancies among young girls mainly in the eastern region which also harbors the world’s youngest grandmother.
Maureen a mother of One from Busia accidentally conceived at 22 years and was seen as an outcast in her family and society. This almost forced her to run away from home but was dragged back as her parents took a calm position on her.
This gave her hope to continue with her life though her education journey was shuttered.
Maureen just like other girls in the region castigates the low knowledge on reproductive health services, saying had she had enough knowledge about contraceptives may be she would not have conceived accidentally.
The report recommends that all health facilities in the region provide space for youth friendly health services, have health workers trained in extending youth friendly health services, furnish the health facilities with enough contraceptives among other things that would make it easy for youths to improve their reproductive health and care.
In Uganda 25% adolescent girls 15-19 years become pregnant with this being more common in rural (27%) than urban areas (19%) and in this , the eastern region carries 21% of the adolescents aged 15-19 years having begun child bearing.