According to media reports, Kalangala District has high rates of HIV and teenage pregnancy compared to the other parts of Uganda with close to 50% of teenage mothers and 18% of adults that are HIV positive.

It is against this background that on September 25th, 2021, the Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF), in partnership with the other Power To You(th) (PTY) consortium partners, Men Engage Uganda (MEU), and The Eastern African Sub-Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI) held a radio talk show to create awareness and demystify misconceptions about contraception use and encourage it’s uptake so as to mitigate the skyrocketing rates of teenage pregnancies in Kalangala District.

The one-hour radio talk show aired on Kalangala’s only local radio station 101.9 Ssese FM was among the activities towards commemorating the World Contraception Day celebrated every year on 26th September. The talk show topic was “Embracing Contraception Use to Mitigate Teenage Pregnancies: Dispelling Myths and Misconceptions“.

The panelists included: the Assistant District Health Officer (ADHO) Kalangala, Sr. Namukasa Jane, Akao Fiona Morrow, and Patience Ashemeire, both PTY representatives, and Nanjego Sharon, a PTY Youth Advisory Group representative in Kalangala. Key issues discussed included: what contraception is, the different types of contraceptive methods, how they work, how they help to prevent pregnancies, and also myths and misconceptions about their use were dispelled.

Sr. Namukasa Jane, the Kalangala ADHO, defined contraceptives as methods or devices used to prevent pregnancy. It is also referred to as contraception, anticonception, and fertility control. She explained that the major forms of contraception are: barrier methods, of which the commonest is the condom, the contraceptive pill, intrauterine devices, such as the coil, which prevent the fertilized ovum from implanting in the uterus; and male or female sterilization, among others.

Nanjego Sharon, a PTY young person, explained that contraception can be used to plan when to have children and how many children to have (family planning). This includes choosing: when they want to begin having children when they want to stop having children and reducing pregnancy-related risks.

Some of the common myths and misconceptions surrounding family planning in the community include: the idea that using contraceptives causes infertility; condoms can get stuck in your body; the coil moves through the body and gets to the feet, which kills; the emergency contraception pill is the same as an abortion pill; and male condoms can easily get lost in a woman’s vagina or uterus and can travel through a woman’s body, requiring surgery to remove it.

Akao Fiona Morrow, however, clarified that all the above are myths and not reality. She added that for one to know, understand, and get accurate information about contraception use, one must consult with a qualified health worker or visit a health facility.

It is only a health worker who will give you the right information, not your friends. Even if they are using one, it does not mean that they can now tell you what it is,” Morrow said.

A caller during the show said that he was told by friends that different contraception methods work with specific types of blood groups for them to be effective. He asked for clarity on that and also what procedures they follow to administer a specific contraceptive method.

In response to the question, Sr. Jane started by dismissing the claim that contraceptives work according to one’s blood group. She explained that, when a person visits a health facility to seek Family Planning services, the first thing done by a trained health worker is to educate him or her about family planning, including what it is, the various types, and how they work.

After you have made a decision for a method to use, the health worker will go ahead and explain more about the specific type. He or she will also ask you about any medical conditions you may have to see if that specific type may have any effect on you, “Sr. Namuksa added.

In her closing remarks, Patience Ashemeire encouraged young people to seek family planning methods so that they can prevent unwanted pregnancies and concentrate on their future so that they can have a better life.