Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum (UYAHF) provided free SRHR services and information to over 70 students during the Makerere University Health Week held on 24th Feb 2022 at the main campus in Kampala,
Health Week is an annual health event at the university organized by two of the university’s halls of residence, Lumumba and Mary Stewart. It is aimed at improving and promoting good health among students who subscribe to the ‘Lumbox’ fraternity and live in the two halls, as well as building young people’s capacity for body autonomy while experiencing menstruation and ensuring that they have safe sex.
The event attracted over 200 participants, including students from within the university, and they were provided with free services like HIV testing and counseling, STI diagnosis and treatment, menstrual hygiene management, family planning, and SGBV screening, among others, by several health service providers and NGOs.
During the event, the UYHAF team, led by Kirunda Mary, a youth champion, distributed free condoms to the students and taught them how to use them properly, as well as provided information on MHM, safe sex, free sanitary pads (vine pads), psychosocial support, free SGBV screening, and sharing the SuubiHelpline.
Kirunda Mary, a youth champion at UYAHF interacts with students at the UYHAF booth during the health week.
Despite being at university, most of the students, according to Kirunda Mary, are still unfamiliar with the proper use of contraceptives, particularly family planning methods such as condoms.
“I was surprised to learn that the majority of the students who came to our booth had little knowledge of condom use.” “They asked a lot of interesting questions about condom use and dispelled a lot of myths and misconceptions,” Kirunda said.
Some of the key questions raised, according to Mary, were: how can I persuade my boyfriend to use a condom; do condoms come in different sizes; how safe is the female condom; where can I report sexual harassment silently; and is it safe to have sex while on menstruation, among others.
According to the students, the event was extremely beneficial because, in the end, all of their misconceptions and myths, particularly about condom use and family planning, were dispelled, and they willingly accepted condom packs, both male and female. The students committed to using condoms to prevent unwanted pregnancy and STDs, speaking openly about any form of SGBV both on and off-campus, and encouraging their peers to visit the UYAHF youth hub to learn more about SRHR.
“There are a lot of other colleagues of mine who haven’t shown up to take advantage of this valuable event, particularly the SRHR services and information.” Sabastian, a year two student at Makerere University, stated, “I have learned and now know quite a lot from this session, and through the contacts you have shared, I will keep in touch and also mobilize some of my colleagues to come to the youth hub to learn more.”