As an initiative to commemorate the World Contraception Day (WCD), Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) together with the other Power to Youth (PTY) Consortium Partners, Men Engage Uganda (MEU), and The Eastern African Sub-Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI) conducted a successful Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and Sexual Gender-Based Violence Outreach Activity at Kitobo landing Site, Kalangala district.
The outreach engaged young people through live wire dialogues and discussions with the village health teams, health workers on breaking stigma, myths, and misconceptions around contraceptives. It also sought to provide young people with health education, information, and knowledge on Maternal and Child Health (MCH), SRHR and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV). And also, to bring SRHR and SGBV services closer to young people particularly the young women and girls in Kitobo community.
It attracted 99 participants including 49 male and 50 adolescent Young Girls and Women (AYGW) who were taught about contraceptive use, received family planning services, HIV/AID testing and counseling, cancer screening, Hepatitis B screening, and treatment, condom distribution among others.
During the session on contraceptive use that was moderated by the Kalangala district Assistant District Health officer Sr. Jane Namukasa, the young people presented several myths and misconceptions around family planning including; bleeding after placing an implant in the body, Implants disappearing in the body, excessive body weight when someone uses family planning, over bleeding after using the injector plan, Condoms get stuck in the woman’s vagina, IUD keeps pushing inwards during sex, Not being able to give birth after using family planning especially when one had never given birth before, pills burn the ovary, among others.
In response to some of the myths, like the issue of family planning causing over bleeding, the ADHO explained that bleeding can be caused by many other conditions like menstruation and unsafe abortion.
“If you experience any bleeding that is not related to menstrual periods, you are supposed to visit the health facility so that you can be diagnosed to find out the root cause and receive treatment,” she added.
The young people also revealed that there is a lot of stigmatization and judgment by some health workers when they go to health facilities to access family planning services.
“When we visit the health center, nurses are always tough on us and say that we want to have sex that is why we have come for family planning, so we fear going back there and sometimes we ask our friends who have used family planning to show us how to use them.” explained one of the young people who preferred anonymity.
Sr. Namuli Teddy, a senior nursing officer regretted such behavior and action of health workers. She however encouraged young people not to shun health facilities because of such unfriendly individuals.
“You have the right to access Family planning services from any health facility and it is free of charge. I am sorry that some of you have to face unprofessional health workers but what I can advise you to do is, if you are treated that way in one health facility, try to visit another or look for a more friendly health worker,” Namuli added.
She further told the young people to desist from listening to friends on any information regarding family planning even if these friends are using the services.
Odong Antony, the Youth chairperson -Kitobo landing site, who also came along with his wife to participate in the outreach said that this activity has been a great chance for them as the youth to know their health status and rediscover themselves.
“I am excited and impressed that my fellow youth have turned up in large numbers to learn about family planning, take HIV tests, and screen for cancer. This shows how much we treasure our lives and how we want to be productive,” Odong stated.
He called upon his fellow youth present at the outreach to pass on the information they have learned to those who could not take part. Many of the young people committed to taking up Family planning services as a way to manage their rate of giving birth and also reduce teenage pregnancies.
Akao Fiona Morrow, a Power To Youth representative lauded Young people for embracing the activity and urged them to always care much about their health and use the existing family planning methods to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
She said that the PTY program will work with the district for the next five years to address some of SRHR challenges faced by young people. Namukasa lauded the PTY program for considering Kalangala in the provision of SRHR services because the district is grappling with high teenage pregnancies prevalence. She committed to working with the PTY program.
The outreach was done in collaboration with the other development partners including Amref Uganda, Heroes for Gender Transformative Action, and Ministry of Health Uganda