On August 8th and 9th 2023, Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) in partnership with Tororo and Butaleja district health offices organized a capacity-building training for health workers on comprehensive integrated adolescent-friendly sexual reproductive health rights (SRHR) and services for young people using the harm reduction model.

The training, held at the respective districts, brought together a total of 55 (24 female and 21 male) health workers from several government and private health facilities and district officials including the district health officers (DHOs), assistant district officers – maternal, newborn and child care (ADHO-MCH), midwives, peer educators, and Village health teams (VHTs).

The training enhanced the capacity of health service providers to provide standard and high-quality adolescent-friendly SRHR services to adolescents and young people using the harm reduction model and the Adolescent Health Policy Guidelines and service standards as a major source document for reference.

While opening the training in Tororo, the DHO, Dr. Okoth Oboth, mentioned that health worker’s communication skills play a vital role in young people’s health-seeking behaviors and access to SRHR services and information.

“You ought to know how to speak to different patients with different approaches. Young people need special treatment if we need them to seek for health services. This is a very important training to you health service providers because you will be taught on the specific skills on how to handle, interact, and respond to young people. In a nutshell, it is specialized training using the harm reduction model” said Dr. Oboth.” 

The Acting district health officer of Butaleja district Sr. Musumbachai Esther explained that such unique training is a positive effort towards supporting the district to achieve its adolescent health indicators and will go a long way to addressing the district health challenges including teenage pregnancy and lack of access to sexual reproductive health for young people.

“Let us pay attention as you attend this training. You will be taken through a lot of health tools and modules including the policy guidelines on adolescent health standard services and the harm reduction module which will enhance your knowledge and we will expect you to translate into your daily practice at the health facilities,” She emphasized.

The training also acted as a platform for health workers especially those who attended the previous training to share experiences on their progress and how they have integrated the knowledge in their various health facility programs and outreaches to increase access to SRHR for young people, un-learn, learn and re-learn.

The Harm reduction project officer Dr. Namonyo Franco who also doubles as the incharge UYAHF adolescent health clinic – in Mbale, shared with the participants the concept of harm reduction and his own experience while handling the young people. He highlighted that the harm reduction model aims to minimize or rather reduce negative consequences related to health, social, and legal issues and relies on more than the tools used in service delivery and begins, at the most fundamental level, with recognizing that all people deserve safety and dignity.

“I work with young people every day at the health facility, and I must tell you that am extremely kind and respectful to them. So effective communication using the most simple and friendly language is key while handling young people,” Franco added.

On the other hand, the ADHO maternal care, sister Musumbachai Esther in her closing remarks recognized the great work UYAHF is doing in the department of SRHR, especially with the young people in Butaleja

Following the training, it was agreed that a Youth friendly space be set up at Sop-Sop health center, and Diana Faith Imodia a peer educator at the health Centre committed to follow-up. The health workers collectively committed to employing the new knowledge they have gained with the help of the harm reduction manual so as to improve adolescents’ health service provision at their respective health facilities.

At the end of the training, UYAHF agreed to support the district to secure and distribute copies of the Adolescent Health Policy Guidelines and service standards.