The Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum, under the Power to Youth (PTY) program, joined the Ministry of Health, UNFPA, and several other partners for the 3rd National Safe Motherhood Pre-Youth Conference 2023, held on October 20, 2023, at Speak Resort Munyonyo in Entebbe district.
The #SMPreYouthConfUG23, held under the theme End teenage pregnancy and reach every adolescent with quality SRHR services and information, brought together over 300 young people from across Uganda, including 10 youth advocates from the Power to Youth districts, to implement
The pre-youth conference was held under the following objectives: to accelerate progress towards access to SRH services for young people as a means to attain universal health coverage for all; to evaluate progress on the implementation of recommendations from the 2nd Safe Motherhood; to share experiences and good learnings on SRH and GBV by community-based adolescent health actors from different districts, including refugee hosting districts; and to mobilize national and district adolescent health leadership to commit to sustainable initiatives for advancing adolescent and school health.
The event was graced by several government officials, including Ministry of Health and Ministry of Gender representatives, UN agencies, development partners, CSO representatives, and the media, and officiated by Dr. Aggrey David Kibenge, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Gender and Adolescents, as the guest of honor.
While delivering the opening remarks at the conference, Namugenyi Jannat, a PTY youth advocate from Busia district, presented the key outcomes and recommendations from the 2022 Safe Motherhood conference.
“Among the key objectives of the 2nd Safe Motherhood Conference are tracking progress on implementing recommendations from the 2022 conference, sharing experience and learnings from the districts, and gathering commitments from various stakeholders, among others,” Jannat noted.
Jackline Kahwa, a young mother and a PTY youth advocate from Isingiro district, shared her touching story of teenage motherhood. She revealed that having gotten pregnant at 16, she became a subject of mockery in her family and faced neglect from her parents after disobeying their demand to send her off for marriage.
“I am excited and feel privileged to stand here before you to share my story, and this is because of the Power to Youth project that gave us hope and empowered us about our rights.” Jackline Kahwa, PTY youth advocate, Isingiro District
She called upon the Ministry of Health and all the other partners to work with and give full support to the PTY program so that more young people can benefit.
While giving his remarks, Dr. Henry Mwebesa, Director General of Health Services at @MinofHealthUG, stated that about 28% of maternal deaths in Uganda occur among teenage mothers. He attributed this to the fact that they are mostly unaware of safe motherhood practices like antenatal care and giving birth under the supervision of a skilled attendant.
Dr. Olive Sentumbwe, the Family Health and Population Advisor of the World Health Organization Uganda, speaking at the conference, noted that together with the Ministry of Health and other partners, they are implementing a number of programs, including building the capacity of health workers in the provision of quality SRH and maternal health services across Uganda, to address, among others, the challenges of maternal health among teenage mothers.
Giving his remarks as the guest of honor, Dr. Aggrey David Kibenge shared his experience working with and serving young people, pointing out the numerous interventions they have put in place to address the needs of adolescents and young people. He emphasized the need for comprehensive research to provide evidence, which is essential in programming at all levels.
The event was a blend of fun and creativity, as the young were entertained by one of Uganda’s top local artists, Dax Cartel, who left them excited all the way. They further participated in art painting, where they came up with and presented art pieces speaking to ending teenage pregnancy. At the close of the conference, hundreds of young people committed to sharing all they had learned with their peers and teaching them to contribute towards ending teenage pregnancy.