The 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) pledged to ensure that “no one is left behind” and to “endeavor to reach the furthest behind first.” Goal 3 of the SDG empathizes the need to achieve “Good Health and Well-being” for all people as a means to achieving the agenda.

Sr. Jane Ruth Opio in charge the Hunger project Epicenter giving welcoming remarks.

Girls with a hearing impairment continue to face several challenges in society especially in accessing quality health care services due to challenges in communication with health workers who either depend on a translator or fail to give them the necessary attention.

Through ‘Her choice project’, the deaf girls are calling upon government to train health care providers across the country on sign language to enable them access quality and timely health care services.

This revelation was made by the deaf and teenage mothers during this year’s Young Mothers Forum that took place on the 2nd of August 2019 at Mbale Epicenter.  The forum was organized by Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) in partnership with The Hunger Project Uganda (THP) under the theme youth for safe motherhood.

The Forums are a creative strategy that has been used by UYAHF for the past five years to target young women and adolescent girls between the ages;13 and 24 years, who are either already mothers, pregnant or at high risk of early pregnancy. This year, Mbale district was selected because of its high rates of teenage pregnancies.

More than 200 participants including  deaf girls, young mothers, school and out of school girls and congregated and were trained on the benefits of safe motherhood practices which included, antenatal care visits, health facility deliveries, postnatal care, family planning, routine immunization, healthy nutrition, exclusive breastfeeding, malaria prevention through sleeping under mosquito nets and a sanitary living environment. The training was carried out by health experts including midwives, nutritionists, and others.

Mr. Benard Mujasi the LCV for Mbale district giving official keynote address at the meeting

The training provided a platform for young mothers to learn about the key concepts of Maternal Newborn and Child Health (safe motherhood), to share stories and experiences on best safe motherhood practices, to discuss challenges faced in accessing MNCH services and information and to make recommendations for improvement.

 

During the forum, UYAHF worked with various service providers like; Reproductive Health Uganda- Mbale (RHU), Aids Information Center Mbale among others that provided different services on ground including; cervical cancer screening and family planning services, Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) and blood donations respectively.

The forum was also graced by District Health Officer (DHO) Dr. John Baptist Waniaye, and the health care champions in Mbale who encouraged young mothers to access free family planning services to enable them avoid unwanted pregnancies and reach their full potential.

The Chairperson LCV Mr. Bernard Mujasi, encouraged girls to prioritize education and report cases of sexual harassment both in school and health facilities.

The young mother’s forum provided an opportunity for young mothers to meet, network, dance, interact, learn, share experiences and make recommendations for the improvement of young mothers and their children, increasing their access and uptake for sexual reproductive, maternal newborn and child health services and information.

Part of the key recommendations, the young mothers proposed include: Training of health workers on sign language interpretation to ease deaf girl’s communication with them, Sensitization of parents to open up to young girls about their sexuality education at home, Destigmatize discrimination of teenage girls with disabilities and opening up of opportunities for them to participate in youth programs in their communities.

In addition, provision of contraceptive services to teenage and sexually active youth to enable them avoid or delay pregnancies.

Written by Samuel Oukalanyi Campaigns and advocacy manager.