“While reporting on adolescent health, stories should meet the basic ethics and human rights values. These young people are challenged by enormous health issues such as HIV /AIDS, STIs and teenage pregnancies but we need to ensure that the information is factual and they are protected” says Patrick Mwesigye, the Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum (UYAHF) Team leader, to Journalists and media practitioners, as he officially opened the 2019 media café.

Patrick Mwesigye during the media cafe

The media café, whose intent was to promote evidence-based media reporting on adolescents’ sexual reproductive health and rights’ was organized by the Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum- (UYAHF) in partnership with the National population council of Uganda with support from the Uganda Health Journalists Association of Uganda on Thursday 28th March 2019 at Fair way Hotel in Kampala.

Dr. Placid Mihayo from Ministry of Health, who was also the guest speaker urged journalists to ‘be consistently factual as they report on adolescent health because their voice is heard by policy makers and influencers, but also respect confidentiality and human dignity as they hold those in power accountable’.

Dr Placid Mihayo giving closing remarks.

Dr Betty Kyadondo, director of Family Health at the National Population Council said their main focus now is reduction of teenage pregnancies and the large number of dependents that are not working.

“We need to invest in youths so they can be of benefit to other age groups because they form the biggest percentage of the population, they are sexually active many mess up because they luck right information” Dr. Kyadondo said.

Dr Betty Kyadondo of the National Population Council -NPC presenting during the cafe

In Uganda’s population, there are over 70% of young people. So the demographic dividend is about investing in young people so that they are productive and can contribute to the growth of the economy. According to the UDHS, figures reveal that adolescents today are increasingly engaged in sexual activity by the age of 16.8 and 17.5. The rural and urban girl has had their first sexual encounter respectively. While it takes the rural and urban girl 7 and 3.6 years for the rural and urban girl respectively to use contraceptives for the first time.

(Left-Right) Esther Nakazi, president UHJA, Esther Dhafa From CEHURD, and Dr. Ibrahim Kirunda of World Health Organization during a panel discussion at the media cafe.

The Health Journalism Network Uganda (HEJNU) president, Esther Nakkazzi appealed media practitioners to always be passionate about the issues they are reporting and that way, they can be able to consistently articulate what they report on.

Dr. Ibrahim Kirunda, the World Health Organization appreciated the UYAHF team for always providing information to journalists, such as  issue papers on adolescent’s Sexual Reproductive Health, which spelt out  pertinent issues affecting adolescents and current data on each of the problems.

“It is this simplified information that we should always share with journalists, short of it, we risk having wrong information in the media” He explained.

Esther Dhafa from Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) advocated against reckless reporting, that may lead to legal consequences, she called for accuracy and research based reporting that is free from harm.  ‘No amount of harm whatsoever should be inflicted on the victim of for example, defilement, rape or uptake of contraceptives by adolescents is explainable, These are highly stigmatized issues in Uganda today’ Dhafa explained.