Following a one-day capacity building training of health workers in Tororo on communication skills, counseling, and the provision of quality Sexual and Reproductive Health services, the Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum organized a series of Young Mothers Forums (YMF) to educate young mothers on comprehensive safe motherhood.

YMFs are an innovative strategy used by UYAHF to bring together young mothers, pregnant girls, girls at high risk of early and unwanted pregnancies, and young fathers to learn about key concepts of safe motherhood such as family planning, Antenatal care, health facility deliveries, Postnatal care, safe abortion, post-abortion care, breastfeeding, nutrition, Sexual and gender-based violence, and mother-to-child transmission elimination, among others.

The forums were held at five different Tororo health facilities: Petta Health Centre III, Mukujju Health Centre IV, Sop Sop Health Centre III,  Kisoko Health Centre III, and Kwapa HC III. They were attended by 297 adolescent girls, young mothers, young fathers, adolescents, peer educators, village health teams, and others.

Dr. Onyango Jagire, the Incharge Mukujju health centre IV, opened the forum at the health facility by encouraging participants to be free and open about issues that they need to know.

This is an opportunity for you to get answers and clarification on all of your questions; please share with them and they will teach you what you need to learn, “Jagire added.

Sr. Akwi Annet, an enrolled Midwife at Mukujju Health Centre IV and facilitator, mentioned that most of the issues raised during the forum are myths and misconceptions about contraception use.

They presented a number of myths about the use of family planning. One of the young mothers stated that If you go for family planning, you will become barren and will never be able to give birth again which is not true,” Added Sr. Akwi

Sr. Attai Agness, a health worker at Petta Health Centre III, also revealed that one of the young mothers said that when the IUD is used, it tickles a man’s penis during intercourse.

Akoth, a pregnant adolescent who attended the forum at Kwapa Health Centre III, claims that their teacher discouraged them from using condoms, claiming that they were ineffective for African women.

Our teacher told us that because African women are dry, condoms will tear and get stuck in us, so we shouldn’t try to use them,” Akoth explained.

According to health workers, the forum has provided young people with an opportunity to learn, understand, and clarify topics they were previously unaware of, as well as debunk misconceptions.

Nagudi Sandra, one of the young mothers, stated that she initially thought family planning was only for the elderly, but thanks to the training, she now understands not only that family planning is for everyone, but also the various contraceptives. While Janet, another young mother, says that when she returns to the community, she will encourage her fellow pears to use condoms if they can’t avoid sex so that they don’t become pregnant at a young age.

Obbo Michael, a young father, said he will not only begin accompanying his wife for antenatal care but will also encourage his fellow men in the village to do the same.

The young mothers expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to learn, and they have committed to using what they have learned from the forum to not only improve their health, but also the health of those in their communities. The health professionals suggested that this training be made continuous so that young people can continue to learn and improve their lives.