Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum -UYAHF, with funding from Universitair Centrum Voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking -UCOS, held strategic buy-in and inception meetings in Kyegegwa district with intention to orient the different stakeholders on the three-year pilot project to draft a district action plan on ending teenage pregnancies and child marriages.

The meeting was majorly focussed on sharing the project and its goals with the district officials. The exciting discussions attracted recommendations on how the project could be better run in order for it to strike the intended objectives.

Kyegegwa Resident District Commissioner, Sharlon Ankunda speaking with the District deputy Chairperson LC5, Mr Daniel Nampamya during the meeting in Kyegegwa

In attendance were, different key stakeholders including the District Health Officer, the Resident District Commissioner -RDC, the district health teams, a representative from the Chief Administrative Office, a representative from the Local Council five –LC5 Chairperson, District deputy Speaker, the District Education Officer -DEO, the District Political representatives mainly from the health, gender and social services committees.

Others were, district youth councillors, 4 representative in-charges from the health centres (including all those working in Kyaka II refugee settlement area), representatives from Good neighbours Uganda which is a CSOs working in Kyaka II settlement, 2 religious leaders and cultural leaders.

The deputy chairperson LC5, Mr. Daniel Nampamya, while opening the inception meeting, welcomed the UYAHF team and its interventions towards what he described as a horrifying iniquity in the district.

He noted that the district eagerly awaits for an action plan, which he expressed optimism that it will provide a clear path-way to ending teenage pregnancies and child marriages in the district.

“Kyegegwa is a young district that faces many challenges, but the issue of teenage pregnancies and early marriages has severely affected us. Our population grows very fast against our insufficient resources and this has strained our planning”. He added that this has had social and economic challenges, hence affecting the development of the district.

Some of the invited guests during the meeting.

Health centre in-charges shared some of the challenges they face while dealing with teenage pregnant mothers. Miss Nalubega Sarah, the in-charge at Hapuyo Health centre III and one of the immediate contact persons said, “Whenever girls get pregnant and they tend to try and or abort using treacherous methods.

Also, she declared that in her community, more than 25% of the girls are teenage mothers. She also revealed that most of the girls are afraid of being pregnant, they carry out harmful abortions and end up with sepsis in the long run.

She appealed to the district and UYAHF to ensure that they put their full commitment towards the development of the district action plan to ensure that the lives of girls are saved.

According to the district statistics office, a colossal 54. 1% of all ANC visits in the district were from teenagers. These standard figures further highlight the fact that teenage pregnancy is a grave problem in Kyegegwa district.

Despite positive advances, sexual and reproductive ill-health remains one of the greatest challenges facing young people in Uganda. Each year, hundreds of thousands of adolescent girls in Uganda get pregnant while others contract HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections -STI

The latest evidence from the Uganda Demographic Health Survey 2016 has showed a rise in teenage pregnancies at 25% from 24% in 2011.

This means, 1 in every 4 girls aged 15 -19 is already a mother or pregnant with her first child (UBOS 2016).

But for many of these girls, pregnancy has little to do with informed choices. Often times, it is a consequence of discrimination, rights violations (including; child marriage, rape, and defilement), inadequate education or sexual coercion, limited access to family planning and contraceptive services among others.

More than 300,000 teenagers who get pregnant annually also account for the bulk of unwanted pregnancies, which end up in unintended births or unsafe abortio