Dr. Irene Mwenyango making a presentation about theADH policy RIA report findings 

The Ministry of Health, along with partners, carried out a Regulatory Impact Assessment on Adolescent Health in 2019. The report was finalized in November 2019 and there was a need to disseminate it to the public. It’s for this reason that the Ministry of Health in partnership with the Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum held a sharing and dissemination ADH policy RIA findings meeting on 25th August 2020 at Fairway Hotel. The meeting was attended by 27 participants (F15, M 12). Dr. Dinah Nakiganda in her opening remarks highlighted the objectives of the findings of the RIA were; to increase access to information and health services, understand the process of how the RIA report was done among others. She defined adolescent health as the range of approaches to preventing, detecting, or treating young people to ensure their health and well-being.

Dr. Irene Mwenyango  shared the purpose and rationale of the RIA findings with the presenters to establish whether the adolescent health policy among other options is the best and analyze challenges faced by adolescents so as to come up with the best option to address them. She later presented the RIA findings and from her presentation, the issue of adolescent health is limited access to age-appropriate information and health care services. Some of the main causes of limited access are; the limited involvement of adolescents in program design and implementation, the unfriendly environment at the health facilities, negative social-cultural norms and values, inadequate essential medicines and supplies that meet the needs of adolescents, restrictive existing policies, guidelines and laws, low advocacy and prioritization for adolescent programs, limited support from parents and the community among others.

During the discussion, much emphasis was put on solution analysis and strategic objectives and actions. The overall goal is to increase access to information and healthcare services to adolescents. Strategic objectives to achieve the goal and strategic actions to achieve the objectives were derived from the causes and sub causes. The 7 strategic objectives and actions were as follows:

Objective 1: To provide and increase the availability and accessibility of age-appropriate acceptable, affordable, and quality health information to adolescents.

Actions: Strengthen a coordinated social behavior change communication, provide accurate and appropriate information, strengthen community structures.

Objective 2: To strengthen the health care system to respond to or provide age-appropriate services that meet the needs and address challenges of adolescents.

Actions: Establish standards for the provision of health service in a friendly and responsive manner to adolescents, strengthen modalities for linkages at all levels, harness collaboration, and partnerships.

Objective 3: To strengthen adolescent’s health stewardship, leadership, and governance for improved adolescent health outcomes.

Actions: Strengthen a multi-sectoral approach to management and response to all adolescent health corners, establish coordination structures at national and sub-national levels inclusive of adolescents to provide leadership and stewardship

Objective 4: Promote an adolescent health research agenda in order to improve evidence generation and data use.

Actions: Mechanism of a bottom-up approach to generate ideas for research; lobby for government funding to support adolescent health research.

Objective 5: To create an enabling policy, social, and cultural environment that promotes the provision of better health and information services for adolescents.

Actions: Engagement of stakeholders in the formation of adolescent health policies; operationalize the policy framework.

Objective 6: To protect and promote the rights and responsibilities of adolescents to health information and care.

Actions: Provide adolescents with age-appropriate information on their rights and responsibilities, provide stakeholders with information on the rights and responsibilities of adolescents.

Objective 7: Strengthen domestic resource mobilization and increase financing of adolescent health and well-being activities in the health sector

Actions: Align budgets with laid down priorities and ensure available resources are used in the most effective manner, provide a specific budget for adolescent health in the health sector, develop a compelling evidence-based case for financing adolescent health.

After the presentation participants noted that some of the ways we can move forward as; carrying out a whole country resource mapping exercise, brainstorm on the ADH health services that stakeholders want to see, involving and empowering the parents since they are the first source of information to the adolescents, engage the different partners who have carried out mappings to identify who was mapped, what has been mapped and to what extent, bring religious leaders on board and write a letter and take it to the cabinet secretariat, amongst others.