Member of Parliament has committed to fast-track the approval process of the Adolescents Health Policy (ADH), which was delayed for the 2nd year running, following its drafting in 2018.

This groundbreaking commitment was made on the 1st, August 2019, as Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum –UYAHF) held a breakfast meeting with key stakeholders bringing together Members of Parliament who sit on the Health Committee, HPAC, and key Civil society organizations to discuss the challenges and how to pressure the government for its expeditious approval.

Hon. Robina Ssentongo speaking to the gathering on the ADH Policy

The meeting was held at Fairway hotel convening 8, out 9 invited legislators. Mp’s present included; Hon Andrew Kiza, Hon Yoweri Joel, Hon Ssentongo Robina, Hon Beatrice, Hon. Ssentongo Robinah, Hon. Ssebikaali Joel, Hon. Kiiza Namitego, Hon Ssebikali Joel and Hon Ssentongo were among others.

“It’s important that we engage you the members of parliament on issues, which are not being responded to by the two responsible line ministries (Ministry of Health, and that of Education and Sports) because Uganda’s population is a very young one and a bigger part of it is characterized by young people” says Mr Patrick Mwesigye UYAHF team leader while officiating the meeting.

Uganda’s population has drastically grown from 34.6% million in 2014 to 40 million according to the recent estimates from UBOS. This structure consists of adolescents with an age ranging from 12 to 20. MP’s feel, ignoring the demands of such a big fraction could create irrevocable challenges in the near future.

“Before stakeholders, I commit to supporting stakeholders on the adolescent health policy to guarantee that the policy is approved. Says Hon. Kiiza Namitego, who was the first one to commit to the task before honorable Joel Ssebikali and Ssentongo added their weight to other members who devoted to working within their means to have the policy approved. They appealed for a joint workforce for this to be achieved.

“As policymakers, we need to work jointly with all stakeholders and CSO’s to mount pressure on the Ministry of Health towards taking action on the Adolescent Health policy to ensure that different aspects of adolescents are addressed. Hon. Ssentongo Robinah said.

A highly interactive and informative engagement involved a presentation and discussion of the issues paper, in which participants of the meeting identified the way forward and key actions on the official statement on the policy.

Key among the areas of engagement was the gap between the urban and the rural young dwellers with the latter being most predisposed to child marriages, and or unplanned pregnancies due to lack of SRHR services.

“On average in urban areas, by the age of 19, an adolescent has one child. The case is worse in rural areas whereby 19 years, an adolescent has 3 children.

This means, even when we want to assume adolescents know little about or nothing about sex, they actually know a lot, which calls for the urgent need of sexuality education at a much younger age and if need be; contraceptives. Says Dr. Muwonge, a consultant on SRHR.

The meeting jointly discussed the different key actions that shall be applied as a way forward to ensure that the adolescent’s policy is passed for RHRN members’ participation in the completion of the ADH and SRHR policies.