Engage Youth and adolescents in the Formulation of Policies that Affect their Health Rights
“We need young people to actively participate in process of drafting policies, and be engaged in fighting for their Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), Investing more in adolescents is a public health benefit,” says Dr. Moses Muwonge, SRHR consultant.
Uganda Youth and Adolescent’s Health Forum (UYAHF) on Wednesday 17th of July 2019, organized a meeting bringing together over 30 representatives from Right Here Right Now (RHRN) members and other key Civil Society Organisations, stakeholder working on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) in Uganda. The meeting aimed to update partners on the status of the Adolescent Health Policy and to enable them to agree on the next plans to facilitate its expeditious approval by parliament of Uganda through the ministry of health.
During the meeting, Dr. Moses Muwonge, a consultant on Adolescent Health Policy (ADH) with Samasha Consulting, also working closely with the Ministry of Health (MoH) regarding this policy extensively discussed its major provisions, and informed participants about its nine major chapters as well as its key policy pillars.
Dr. Moses Muwonge, a consultant on Adolescent Health Policy (ADH) during the meeting.
The pillars include; the prevention of adolescent pregnancies, unsafe abortions and maternal mortality, the prevention of mental, neurological, alcohol and substance disorders, the prevention and management of STIs including HIV and AIDS among adolescents.
Others are; prevention and management of communicable and non-communicable diseases, the importance of good nutrition, also talks about the prevention of all forms of violence against adolescents, the prevention and management of mortality and disability from accidents and the provision of health information and services, especially in fragile settings.
These pillars are categorized into chapters and youth should concentrate on the first three, which include and significantly; the life course approach, the importance of why we should invest more in adolescents, and the context in which the adolescent health issues should be situated.
The formulation of the ADH policy has been informed by the need to address the health gap and challenges affecting the youth and adolescents in the country, Thus the overall goal of the ADH Policy is to mainstream adolescent health concerns in the national development process in order to improve the quality of life and standards of living of young people in Uganda.
Up until now, the health of youth and adolescents in Uganda is managed by policy guidelines formulated in 2002, which only stops at the ministry and yet there was a need for the policy for adolescents, which exceeded the existing guidelines and thus drafting of the new policy.
The National Health Policy for Adolescents based upon the adolescents’ policy health guidelines. The policy can only serve its purpose if the youth for which it is meant to serve are actively engaged and participate in the formulation process.
Currently, the ADH policy is before Ministry of Health who are in the process of developing the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA), once completed, the certificate of financial implications will be issued by the ministry of finance before it is presented to cabinet and parliament for approval.
However, the process is taking longer and yet the issues it is meant to address are escalating.
It is against this concern that UYAHF and RHRN partners devising ways of coming up with alternative strategies and action plan to engage relevant stakeholders and push for the expeditious approvals of the policy.
Group photo: Participants taken after the meeting at fairway hotel Kampala