30th June 2015 -Kampala Uganda,
Compiled by: Patrick Mwesigye
Founder and Team Leader- Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum , Acting Coordinator- Africa Youth and Adolescents Network on Population and Development, Member- Have You Seen My Rights Coalition and Global Youth Leader – PMNCH and UNFPA. email@example.com
Each year, about 6.3 millions children die and nearly 300,000 women die globally from preventable complications related to pregnancy and child births. In Uganda alone about 80,000 children and 6000 women die annually due to the same preventable causes. These are not mere statistics but people with names and faces. Their suffering is unacceptable in the 21st century and calls for more intensified evidence based, high impact interventions and doing business unusual to reduce these preventable maternal, child and adolescent deaths, noted Enoch Magala a Youth leader from Uganda.
This was at National Youth Consultative Meeting held on 30th June 2015 in Kampala Uganda’s Capital to set and harmonize youth and adolescent health priorities and recommendations for the UN SG’s Global Strategy for Women’s Children’s and Adolescents’ Health and the National Health Sector Strategic Investment Plan for 2015/16- 2020/21 which is currently being revised.
Young people decried of the increasing preventable deaths among pregnant women especially young women and called on the government and development partners to do more for pregnant women who succumb to hemorrhage, uterine rapture, sepsis, eclampsia and induced abortions due to lack of basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care services, newborns who succumb to infection for want of a simple injection and children who succumb to malnutrition for lack of nutritious foods and hence, will never reach their potential.
We must do more for the teenage girls who are at risk and those who are already victims of child marriages, teenage pregnancies, gender violence and school dropout, and for the pregnant women living with HIV and don’t want to infect their babies, said Mwesi Habagaya also a Youth leader and health activist.
With a few months left to adopt a new transformative and sustainable development framework, world leaders must, intensify their efforts to improve the health of women, children, and adolescent for sustainable development outcomes. Therefore as the world leaders debates the framework for a transformational development agenda, young people in Uganda are calling for investment in Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights as a critical investment areas for improving the health of women, children and adolescents and securing their survival and well being.
Amanda Banura from AfriYAN-Uganda, noted that investing in the SRHR needs of young people will Protect their well-being, maximize their potential for healthy, productive lives and Improve their social and economic development. Amanda also noted that, Investments in sexual and reproductive health are important for young people because they are experiencing a time of transition.
With the right investments, nations can ensure that young people make a successful journey through this critical period. The right investments will: keep young people, especially girls, in school; help young people start a productive working life; prepare young people for their responsibilities as citizens; foster healthy relationships between men and women; and encourage young people to delay childbearing and to also make decisions together about the timing and spacing of pregnancies and number of children they are to have.
Praise Mwesige from UYAHF called for incorporating Comprehensive sex education on the school menu as an important first step in empowering young people to make healthy decisions about their behavior.
Global evidence shows that these programs help young people abstain from or delay sex; reduce the frequency of unprotected sex and the number of sexual partners; increase the use of contraception to prevent unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections; and in turn, help delay that first birth to ensure a safer pregnancy and delivery.
Praise also noted that youth-friendly services help young people address a range of sexual and reproductive health needs. According to the UDHS of 2011, among married adolescent girls, about two out of every three girls have an unmet need for family planning, meaning the couple does not want to get pregnant but is not using any form of contraception. And among sexually active, unmarried young women, almost half are not using any contraceptive method but do not want to get pregnant. Increasing access to family planning is a key strategy to protect the health of adolescent girls and reduce unintended pregnancies, maternal deaths, and unsafely performed abortions.
Investing in the sexual and reproductive health of young people also increases returns on other investments in health, education, gender and economic growth. For instance, delaying marriage and childbearing among adolescent girls could help increase school enrollment and completion especially among girls. And the more educated a girl is, the more likely she is to use contraception and avoid unintended pregnancy, said Patrick Mwesigye the Team Leader UYAHF.
Young people also appreciated the inclusion of adolescent health in the Global Strategy of the UN Secretary General on Women’s and Children’s Health as this represents an unprecedented opportunity to place adolescent girls and boys in the political map beyond 2015. They called on the strategy to ensure that every adolescent has the knowledge, skills, and opportunities for a healthy, productive life and enjoyment of all human rights as this is critical for achieving improved health, social justice, gender equality and other development goals.
Young people also called for increased funding for adolescent health in the health sector budget, meaningful involvement and participation of young people in health sector programming and decision making spaces. They also called for inclusion of the needs of people living with disabilities in health programming, integration of a human rights based approach and a peer to peer approach in youth friendly health service delivery as well as increased partnership and capacity building for youth led organizations in accountability and monitoring of commitments made policy makers to improved adolescent health and development.
The consultative meeting organized by Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum (UYAHF) and Africa Youth and Adolescents Network on Population and Development (AfriYAN) with support from PMNCH and Action/2015 Campaign brought together over 80 vibrant, active and passionate youth leaders from over 56 districts in Uganda, including student representative, young people living with HIV, young people living with disabilities, young/ teenage mothers, young people from Key populations and other youth leader from front line youth led CSOs, national youth council among others.