#ASM2016: Adolescent Stakeholders Meeting

Globally, there are 1.2 billion adolescents and an estimated 196.5 million are in Africa.
In the Eastern Africa and in the world at large, Uganda has one of the youngest populations with current statistics showing about 78% of the population being below 30 years of age. This constitutes a largely productive population but this particular group is constrained by numerous challenges which may hinder both social and economic development. Besides, the dependency ratio is at an increased rate especially constituting of the early and late adolescents who are largely still minors that need lots of guidance and support.

However, this can be transformed into opportunities if efforts are put in place to address this that is; appropriate policies, programs as well investments are made for the young people (10-24 years).

This transitional stage poses so many challenges for the young people as they undergo various physiological, psychological and emotional changes. With little or no guidance in this stage, they are prone to indulging in behaviors harmful to their health which may include but are not limited to; alcohol and substance abuse, commercial sex work which might be premature and unprotected as well as sexual gender based violence. Negative religious and cultural practices, peer pressure, poverty and negative gender stereotypes, as well as limited access to information and services exacerbate the behaviors mentioned above.

Effects of the dilemmas above include teenage pregnancies, with 1 in 4 girls aged 15-19 already a mother or pregnant with her first child; the teenage pregnancy rate is at 24% (UDHS 2011), unsafe abortion, abandoned children, HIV/ AIDS and STDS among others.
Approximately 1.3 million adolescent deaths occurred in 2012, majority of which could have been prevented. The 10 leading causes of mortality among adolescents; road injury, HIV/AIDS, self-harm, Lower respiratory infections, interpersonal violence, diarrhea diseases, drowning, meningitis, epilepsy, endocrine, blood and immune disorders. Though in Sub Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause. The mortality is higher in boys than in girls and in older adolescents (15–19 years) than in their younger counterparts (10–14 years). While there are many causes of mortality common to boys and girls, violence is a particular problem in boys and maternal causes in girls.

It was up on this background, that Afriyan Uganda Chapter in partnership with Restless Development Uganda on the project dubbed “My Voice My Right”, organized an event on Monday 26th (World Contraceptive Day) which they called “Adolescent Stakeholders Meeting” at Grand Global Hotel Makerere hill.
This event mainly focused on young people both in and out of school, partner organizations and stakeholders and politicians championing in adolescent health in key line ministries like Education, Health and Gender.

The event kicked off early filled with youthful edutainment and life stories from young people and basically from victims of circumstances like early marriage, teenage pregnancy, people with special needs (disabled), wars and conflicts, among many other tragedies faced by young people in Uganda.
The participants later came up with a position paper that was directed to holding the government and all key stakeholders accountable to the past commitments towards ensuring increased uptake of adolescent health friendly services.

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