On Tuesday, December 21, 2021, the Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum (UYAHF) met with Butaleja district officials, including the Assistant District Health Officer, Environmental Health Officer, teachers, health workers, CSO representatives, and young people, to present a position paper based on health worker training and young mothers’ forums held in the district.

The meeting was organized under the objective of building young people’s capacity in lobbying and advocacy to demand and hold accountable policymakers and the duty bearers to create a supportive social, legal, and policy environment that advances access to quality and youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services, including safe abortion and family planning.

Among other key issues discussed were forging ways to address issues of maternal mortality and morbidity resulting from unsafe abortions and teenage pregnancies in the district.

During the discussion, it was mentioned that school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have increased the number of teenage pregnancies and child marriages.

The internet exposure of young people, according to Mrs. Esther Musumbachai, the Butaleja district ADHO, is one of the major contributors to the SRHR challenges that young people face.

“These young people, especially boys, don’t know what to do, so they turn to drugs,” she continued, “while the girls are all glued to the television or online, interacting with an unacceptable way of life that leads them to learn and practice unacceptable behaviors.”

According to Sister Hawa, a health worker at Busolwe Hospital, the facility has implemented group antenatal tailored to young people as a result of the health worker training and young mothers’ forums held in October 2021.

She added that these group antenatal have proven to be a successful intervention because more young mothers are now visiting health facilities rather than attempting home deliveries as was previously the case.

“I urge the district to implement group antenatal care at all of the district’s health facilities. This creates a safe environment for young mothers to access information and share their experiences without fear of being judged by older women,” Nurse Hawa explained.

By the end of the meeting, district officials had agreed to investigate the possibility of implementing group antenatal care as a way to encourage young mothers to seek accurate SRHR information and contraception.