Family planning Activity Project Inception Meetings
Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum, Pathfinder international Uganda, Uganda protestant Medical Bureau, and Samasha Smf met with the leadership of Kyenjonjo, Kyakwazi and Kyegegwa districts local government and held very successful and informative introductory meetings for the USAID Family Planning Activity Project. These districts are among the 11 districts targeted for this 5-year project that will seek to improve the reproductive health behavior of communities with a focus on advancing access to the uptake of voluntary planning services.
On 27th May 2020 the team was in Kyakwazi to introduce the project to the district. The district team welcomed the project and noted that this is very timely considering the district’s high fertility rates of average 7 children woman in Kyankwanzi. The DHO informed the team that the district had started on the development of a DCIP with support of UFPC and noted that several consultations were done and a consult sourced is facilitating the process. He noted that there is a draft in place, and recommended that it would be better if the team builds on this work. The UYAHF team leader Patrick Mwesigye asked the DHO if young people were involved during the consultations and he said no. Our team leader was afraid that their issues were completely not integrated hence need to think about consulting them going forward. The DHO also expressed a need for support to finalize the DCIP so that FP priorities for the district can be set. Additionally, they noted the increasing interest among women to take up modern methods of Family Planning like hormonal contraception and SAYANPRESS, there is a need to enhance provider readiness and address social norms to facilitate the demand.
On 28th May 2020 the team was in Kyenjojo district and the CAO stated that the project is good news to the district given its long-term nature and intended purpose in meeting the Family planning and other reproductive health needs of the district. As local government and even central government, they can’t do everything and that is why they need partners to step in and support them in service delivery. Kyenjojo needs a lot of support in family planning and reproductive health is given the districts’ high unmet need for family planning currently standing at 46.
Like in many other districts, Kyenjojo is worried about a population explosion due to the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown given that people have been a lockdown at home, very sexually active, and with limited access to family planning services. The CAO went further to add that, the district has a chain of health facilities and a committed team of technical staff that is ready and willing to support the project to meet its goals.
The ADHO noted that FP services in Kyenjonjo are available and delivered at all health centers, and of recent, the demand has increased rapidly to the extent that the district is requesting an emergency order of Family Planning Supplies from NMS. The district has also had supply chain challenges with NMS especially regarding delayed/late deliveries of essential reproductive health commodities which leads to regular stalk outs. The district is offering all various types of FP services including temporally, short teams, and permanent modern methods. Various CSOs partners are supporting the district such as Mariestoppes Uganda which is supporting the districts with supplies in times when the district is out of adequate supplies like recently during the COVID pandemic. The ADHO however noted that the district’s unmet need for FP is very high at 46 and access to adolescent-friendly FP services is still a very big challenge which is exacerbating high teenage pregnancy rates.
While in Kyegegwa the CAO stated that many essential services have been greatly affected including health care due to the population of the district which is high due to the increasing number of refugees amidst the high rates of fertility stated at 8-9 per woman. He confirmed that the district is willing to lead, implement, as well as provide technical support in the form of leadership and coordination and asked our team to prioritize their work as per their needs. He called upon the team to work together within the existing district structures, he also stated that family planning uptake was at 13.4 in 2018 but slightly increased in 2019 due to interventions by implementing short-lived partners.
On the other hand, the LCV confirmed that the community has a lot of misconceptions and myths around family planning. They relate it to one being barren which is not right so we need to be mindful of how we package this information.
The DHO in his presentation stated that the FP commodities are inadequate and the existing partner, Mariestopes works in just a few sub-counties so if the FPA project works in all sub-counties then it will be an added advantage to the district.
All the three meetings highlighted the growing misinterpretation of the concept of family planning among communities and the need to use innovative approaches to the social behavior interventions address these myths and misconceptions that communities have on family Planning.