In Uganda, 1 in 4 girls aged 15 – 19 years are either pregnant or already having the first child. Sexual encounters at this age are largely unprotected while contraceptive use for young people is at 20.7% for 15-19 and 31.1% for 20-24 respectively. This trend exposes adolescents to problems such as acquiring sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy related health complications including maternal death. Adolescents and young people not still lack adequate age appropriate sexual reproductive information and services which can enable them to make informed choices.
Let's Change the Story Campaign aims to end teenage pregnancy in Uganda. It was launched recently and presided over by the State Minister of Lands; Hon. Dr. Chris Baryomunsi at a breakfast meeting held in Kampala, attended by over 50 Members of the parliament, 25 Civil Society organisations, 80 youth and the media.
As part of the activities, a group of young girls led by Sophie Nabukenya; the campaign ambassador and Civil Society organisations handed over a petition to State Minister of Lands; Hon. Dr. Chris Baryomunsi calling upon government to: (1) prioritise budget increase for adolescent health in the upcoming national budget,(2) Establish adolescent friendly service delivery points and support girls to access to sexual and reproductive health information (3) Train health workers and equip them with professional skills necessary to work with young people.
- Increase the quality of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) information and services accessible to girls and young women in local districts of Uganda.
- Governments globally commit to delivering youth-friendly SRH services and information – both with regards to aid spending and domestic policies
- Sensitising men and boys in Uganda to become champions against gender-based violence and teenage pregnancy
Why the Campaign is timely
Plan International’s Global Strategy and Country Strategic Plan demands that each of us takes the necessary actions to ensure that 100 million girls lead, learn, decide and thrive across the globe and in Uganda. The organisation with its partners and Government have committed to building a global movement on Girls’ rights. Thus young people have been engaged in all our programmes and partners to deliver this promise.
Youth advocates have been working since 2015 when they conducted a qualitative research, Participatory Learning Action Research, in the five Districts and established that amidst the many challenges young people face, the issue of teenage pregnancy was still glaring. The young people in this research suggested several interventions including i)influencing the budgeting process for increased budget allocation for Sexual Reproductive Health Rights and services(SRHR) in their respective Districts ii) investing in massive public campaigns to conscientize the public to end teenage pregnancy.The challenge today is to get the Parliament of Uganda to confirm this commitment as it approves the budget that for the whole country.
The youth advocates therefore feel it is at this point in time that they need to show parliamentary authorities that their campaign is receiving the attention and support by people from all over
Campaing tactics & strategies
- Influencing Uganda’s parliament, line Ministries, multilateral organisations, private sectors and Civil Society Organisations to increase the 17/18 budget towards SRHR services
- Influencing global governments’ commitments to increased quality of SRHR services for young people as a tool to address teenage pregnancy.
- Building International and local solidarity action to support the young people’s work
Why Government needs to increase investment in sexual and reproductive services and information
As we are allocating the budget we need to ensure that the biggest section of our population [young people] is catered for appropriately by providing greater health services. Dr. Chris Baryomunsi
The Government of Uganda has steadily increased its budget allocation to the health sector. However, it continues to allocate on average 8.4% of its budget to health care for the last 5 years, which is less than the 15% they agreed when signing on to the Abuja Declaration. Although this has progressively increased over the years, the proportion dedicated to investment in adolescent related health services at district level receives a mere 10% which is significantly low.
Health facilities will be better equipped to provide advice to adolescent girls and boys, as well as improving the dissemination of relevant material and information about sexual health and reproductive rights.
Improved access to services and methods of family planning will delay early and unintended motherhood/ pregnancies. Thus, girls can have longer access to education, and therefore have better future livelihood opportunities
These in-turns significantly reduce the country’s burden of HIV prevalence, maternal mortality rates and abortion related complication among young people which accounts for a bigger health care budget.
Types of services and information the young people are campaigning for
- Youth Friendly Health Services, particularly safe and confidential access to age, culturally and scientific appropriate sexual reproductive services, such as contraceptives, Post Exposure prophylaxis (PEP) including emergency contraceptive pills, and psychosocial counselling especially to young girls; treatment of sexually-transmitted infections and diseases; and support to young mothers to give birth safely.
- Accurate information and advice on sexuality education and sexual health;
- A bigger investment by the Uganda government could mean resources could be allocated to the following needs and gaps in the Ugandan health sector:
- Addressing staffing gaps and shortages
- Improve and/or establish more youth friendly service points in the health facilities
- Building the technical competency and capacity of health workers to deliver quality healthcare services to adolescents
- Improve the rampant stock outs of essential supplies and commodities particularly those needed for adolescent health related services which can limit the ability of health facilities to provide a comprehensive package for adolescents.
Appeal from the Young people
Three asks from the campaign:
- Increasing funding for adolescent health in the upcoming national budget
- Establishing adolescent friendly service delivery points
- Training health workers, equipping them with professional skills necessary to work with young people
I left school at 14 because I was pregnant, but together we can help girls in Uganda have a choice of when they become mothers. Teddy, 20, Kamuli
Partnership behind the campaign
- Plan International Uganda
- Plan International UK
- Uganda Women’s Parliamentary Association (UWOPA)
- Uganda Youth Network (UYONET)
- Straight Talk Foundation (STF)
- Centre For Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP)
- Forum For African Women Educationalists (FAWE-U)
- Trail Blazer
- Restless Development
- Joy for the Children
- Girl Up Initiative Uganda
Join #bravegirls of Uganda, let’s change the story and sign the petition: plan-uk.org/letschangethestory