In Summary
  • Finally, the ministry should expedite implementation of the pending policies to facilitate service and information delivery to the Ugandan youth. Such policies include the school health policy, which we believe will help in keeping girls in school.

On September 27, this newspaper carried an editorial titled, ‘Government must make all health centres work’, in reference to the state of our health centre in Uganda. The focus was on the sorry state of the maternity ward at Kakingo Health Centre III in Moroto District. Nurses at the facility tell attendants of mothers who deliver at the centre to collect sand, which is poured on the floor to absorb and dry blood discharged by mothers during labour and the sand is then swept off the floor.

However, the situation is not unique to Kakingo Health Centre III. Patonga Health Centre III in Agago District has no windows and the beds are wanting. If we are to save mothers from labour-related complications such as bleeding and malaria, how can this be achieved given such conditions at the health facilities? The Ministry of Health should engage private sector actors for help if we are to save the lives of mothers.

On the other hand, I thank government for informing and educating the youth about how best to check school dropouts arising from drug abuse and teenage pregnancies among school-going girls and boys. The national teenage pregnancy rate in Uganda has shot up from 24 per cent as per the UDHS 2011 to 25 per cent mark in the UDHS 2016. But at district level, the rate has surpassed the 25 per cent, for instance to 28.5 per cent in Omoro District and 28 per cent in Agago District. The rate goes even as high as 30 per cent, for instance in Yumbe District, etc. Where is the gap and what is government not doing right?

During the World Contraception Day commemoration event in Agago District on September 26, state minister for Primary Healthcare Joyce Moriku, remarked that the modern contraceptive use in Uganda has improved from 26 per cent in 2011 to 34 per cent in 2016 and the unmet need has reduced from 34 per cent to 28 per cent in the same period. That again, is the national status and not the district/regional status.

We recognise the efforts of the Health ministry and partners in sensitising and educating the young people of Uganda. However, young people need age-specific information at all levels - from the district, sub-counties to the parish levels - and everyone, including religious, cultural, and community leaders, are key players.

Therefore, my recommendation to Healthy ministry is: Working with the private sector will help relieve it on issues such as information dissemination to the lowest level. It should also strengthen the partnership with CSOs and NGOs at the grassroots. This was one of the commitments that Uganda made towards the FP2020 at the London Summit 2017.

Finally, the ministry should expedite implementation of the pending policies to facilitate service and information delivery to the Ugandan youth. Such policies include the school health policy, which we believe will help in keeping girls in school.