Mr Patrick Ojilong, one of the consultants shares his thoughts on the URMCHIP project

Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum in collaboration with Naguru Youth Health Network (NYHN) and the AFRIYAN Network; and with support from PAI are working on a project to develop a joint youth advocacy action plan on GFF and RMNCAH processes in Uganda. As a foundation for this action plan, we will be conducting youth led rapid assessment on access, uptake, availability and quality of youth friendly services in Tororo and Busia. The rapid assessment will also seek to understand the scope of youth friendly services, policy provisions and commitments in the RMNCAH investment case, challenges and experiences of young people in accessing youth friendly services and the extent to which these services fit the Universal Health Coverage framework. The findings from the rapid assessment will then be used to develop a joint youth advocacy action and coordination plan.Taking note of the importance of having meaningful youth engagement in all the stages of our projects, we held a consultative meeting with youth led organizations in order to inform the process of the rapid assessment and the development of the advocacy action plan as a whole.

The objectives of the meeting were;

  1. Orient key stakeholders on the drafting of the youth advocacy action plan
  2. Get feedback on some of the key areas to focus on while advocating for young people’s involvement in GFF processes in Uganda.

Expected outcomes

  1. Increased understanding of the GFF architecture, and how young people can better be involved in the processes.

This fun and engaging meeting was attended by 6 female and 19 male representatives from various youth led organizations from Kampala, Wakiso, Mbale, Kiboga and lganga with some of the organizations having representation in the districts of interest. Some of the organizations in attendance included Reproductive Health Uganda, Uganda Network of young people living with HIV & AIDS, Action for Health Uganda, Joy for Children, Naguru Teenage Center, African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation, International Youth Alliance for Family planning, Uganda Family Planning Consortium, Uganda Youth Alliance for Family Planning and Adolescent Health, Iganga University students & youth association, Action for Youth and Women Empowerment, Together Alive Health Initiative, Kampala Youth Advocacy and Development Network and Youth Equality Centre. It was also attended and officiated by key representatives from the Ministry of Health including Dr Richard Mugahi, the Assistant Commissioner for Reproductive health and adolescent health and Dr Murokona Dan. Additionally, we also had representation from the RMNCAH coordinating mechanisms in Uganda including Mr Joshua Thembo from Naguru Teenage Centre and Mr Robert Odedo from ACHEST. Both of them shared their involvement in the development of the action plan and how important a role this will play in the overall coordination processes in the country.

Dr Richard Mugahi gives a key note address to the young people during the consultative meeting.

In his remarks, Dr Mugahi shared his excitement to be a part of the consultative meetings and pointed out that as the Ministry, they are always glad to be involved in youth led and youth focused work. He further commended the team for their decision to have evidence-based planning noting that it feeds into one of the strategic shifts of the RMNCAH sharpened plan. Even more, this guides proper planning and resource mobilization. ‘When young people use evidence in their advocacy work, they are able to better influence decision makers.’ He also pointed out that the advocacy action plan at district level will be important because some of the main issues like teenage pregnancies are in those districts. He further noted that under the URMCHIP project, the Ministry wants to train service providers in adolescent friendly services so that they know how to handle them.

Key Things to note under RBF;

  1. Government is giving extra money to district and health facilities across the country for better service delivery.
  2. Health workers are given incentives when they attend to more adolescents in the appropriate way.
  3. Adolescents should be happy with the health facility services and are able to share with one another.
  4. More young people should be registered going to the health facilities.
  5. Quality of care for adolescents at the health facilities.
Dr Murokona Dan was also in attendance to speak to young people about the GFF processes in Uganda and the importance of evidence.

As a key note speaker in the meeting Dr Murokona Dan from Ministry of Health also emphasized how glad he was to hear about the project. He encouraged the young people to always think about the final recipients of the research and what it will be used for. Additionally, he emphasized the need for a multi-sectoral approach to all the evidence-based advocacy to ensure that all the key stakeholders are reached.

The meeting took key note of the importance of youth voices in impacting the GFF and RMNCAH processes and the importance of having correct information about how they can influence these processes. Ms Apio Winnie, the Programme Manager at UYAHF took the participants through the CSO engagement strategy and the adolescent youth addendum and explained how we can influence the processes in country. Additionally, it became evident that most of the participants were not fully aware of either GFF or the URMCHIP project. They were therefore glad to have had an opportunity to learn more about this and requested for further targeted engagements that would offer more information and youth engagements.

Patrick Mwesigye, team leader, UYAHF introduces the project to the participants and speaks of our roles in the process.

In his address, Mr Patrick Mwesigye, explained the importance of having localized youth led evidence and guiding documents and shared how it does not make sense that we continue to use other global guidelines when we have the power to develop our own action plans in country. As youth led and youth focused organizations, we are rarely at the lead of evidence gathering. It is therefore a great opportunity for us, as youth led organizations to come up with a youth advocacy action plan that we can all own. This will also give us the opportunity to scale these down to individual district action plans that can improve our work at the grassroots level. He also emphasized that this plan will not be a UYAHF or NHYN plan but rather one that should be owned by all youth led organizations. This is why we are keen to involve young people at every step of the project.

Key to the meeting was the presentation of the inception report by the two consultants who have been recruited to carry out the research. They took the participants through the plan of the data collection and how the data would be used to come up with the report and further inform the development of the advocacy action plan. As a product of this meeting, the rapid assessment will be done in Tororo and Busia has officially rolled out and UYAHF is excited for the results of that assessment. We are glad to be a part of this monumental process that puts young people at the center of influencing GFF and RMNCAH processes using evidence. We hope that we shall be able to scale this further to more districts in Uganda.