Compiled By Patrick Mwesigye Founder/ Team Leader – Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum/ Vice President: AfriYAN East and Southern Africa Region
Yesterday 11th June 2016, Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum in partnership with AfriYAN Uganda Chapter and the Post Test Club of Naguru Teenage and Information Center and Kiswa HC IV held a very successful Young mother’s Forum on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, that saw about 120 young people turn up to dialogue, share experiences and learn about the key concepts of maternal and child health and other SRHRH issues that are of major concern to young people and make recommendations as well as devise solutions to promoting young people’s health and well-being.
Among the young people present were adolescent mothers, adolescents fathers, adolescent boys and girls at risk of teenage pregnancy and early marriages, adolescent boys and girls who have been victims of sexual and gender based violence and those at risk of SGBV, adolescent living with HIV among others.
The very successful day was filed with lots of fun, laughter, entertainment coupled with music, dance comedy but most importantly, learning, dialogue, sharing experiences and suggesting recommendations that will be presented to the management of Naguru Teenage and Information Center and the Adolescent Health Technical Working Group of the Ministry of Health as well as the MNCH cluster of the Ministry of Health. Here are some of the links to the young people performing at the event;
Sr. Nasuna Hellen a senior Midwife from Naguru teenage center facilitated the dialogue and learning on safe motherhood/ maternal and child health, where she informed participants that many adolescents girls are at high risk of teenage and unwanted pregnancy and this puts their life at risk both during pregnancy, at birth and after child birth. She noted that the major cause of teenage pregnancy is risky sexual behaviors like having unprotected sex which definitely results into pregnancy, failure to use contraceptives, early marriages, increased forms of violence which expose young people to early sexual debuts among others.
She cautioned the young people on the poor health seeking behavior that they have adopted and said that most pregnant adolescent girls fear to come to health facilities for antenatal services yet these services are free and readily avaialble.
Sr. Hellen informed the participants that seeking antenatal services is highly recommended for all pregnant mothers and that this should be done at least four times during pregnancy and that fathers should always encourage and company mother for antenatal.
During antenatal visits, we teach the mothers a lot of things including how a mother must eat while pregnant, what she has to do to ensure good health and safety for both herself and her unborn baby, she added. We also diagnose the mother of various illness like HIV, HPB, Hepatis B, Cancer, Malaria among other things to make sure that we detect any illness and that is likely to affect her and her baby health during pregnancy and we treat it immediately.
Sr. Hellen Nasuna a Senior Midwife from Naguru Teenage Center/ Kiswa Health Center IV making her presentation on Best Safe Motherhood Practices.
We also provide guidance to young mothers living with HIV, and enroll them on EMTCT to make sure that they stay healthy and they don’t infect their unborn babies with HIV.
At delivery, we make sure that the mother and her newborn receives all the required care that will grantee no risk to death or injury, therefore this should be the major reason why all pregnant young women should deliver at the health facility.
Sr. Hellen also called on mothers to exclusively breastfeed their newborn babies at least for six moths with out any additional food supplements but only breast milk as this is healthy for the baby. She also tought the participants that routine immunization must be done for the child and this is entirely the responsibility of both the mother and father of the newborn to immunize their child against the 6 killer diseases. During antenatal and at birth, the parents are guided by the health worker on how to immunize their child noted, Sr. Hellen.
In their response, the young women pointed out poor attitudes and of health workers who ask unnecessary questions and abuse the mothers. The mothers also pointed out challenge with health facilities which ask them for money to access services yet they are unemployed and broke. Namutebi a mother of one noted that confidentiality is still a challenge highly faced by young mothers as health workers always leak their information to relatives and friends. Bosa, a 16 years teenage boy also noted that ” health workers need to come to our schools to give us information on prevention of HIV, teenage pregnancy and give us counseling”, while Marvis 19 years ad a mother of one blamed violence experienced by young girls as the major cause of teenage pregnancy. “We are forced to run away from home because of being mistreated only to end up with men who lie to us and end up impregnating us. Among the major highlights of the discussions was need to increases young people’s access to contraceptives and breaking the myths and stigma surrounding contraceptives noted Marrow 22 years who is Vice President of the Post Test Club Naguru Teenage Center. More voices on the young women’s perspective on scaling up access to maternal health services can be found on the link here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbU1zES8sIA
In the pictures above, participants are split in focused group discussions while in the picture below, participants listed in to the Midwife as she makes her presentation.
Mr. Bukenya Dennis the Deputy Director Naguru Teenage Center also called on all pregnant adolescent girls to make it a must to deliver from the health facility with assistance of a qualified health worker. He informed participants that they should deist from the habit of unsafe abortion practices as these expose their lives to danger. On asking participants some of the crude abortion methods commonly used by adolescent girls; participants noted the following; drinking of detergent soap, inserting sticks in the vagina, drinking herbal medicines, drinking a lot of tea leaves among others.
Mr. Dennis noted that, Naguru, teenage center is open to all young people and it provides a wide range of health care services that include antenatal, delivery including; emergency obstetric and newborn care services, postconsonantal care, family planning, HIV services including, prevention services, treatment and care, cancer screening, counselling services, e.t.c. The center also also has a club for young people; the Post Test Club where young people come together to learn and dialogue on issue of their concern and also to advise the center management on improving improving services to young people.
Mr. Dennis Bukenya the Deputy Director Naguru Teenage Center addressing participants at the dialogue
Patrick, Mweigye the Founder and Team Leader Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF), called on participants, to use their teenage age to invest in their future. He said, that, Young people are full of potential and can do incredible staff, especially if they are healthy, free from disease, injury and violence. He called on young people present to abstain from Sex and concentrate on school and finishing their education. For the sexually active young people, he emphasized the need to avoid risky sexual behaviors like; unprotected sex, multiple sexual partners, cross generational sex, commercial sex work among others. He called on them to use condoms correctly and consistently and always ensure to stalk enough of them such that they are available at the times of need. Patrick also told sexually active young women, to always use contraceptives to be able to avoid pregnancy. He however, encouraged young women, to always seek medical advise on the right contraceptive method to use.
He called on the government of Uganda to invest in health and welling of young people to ensure that they are healthy and free from violence, educated, skilled and can find a job. In his conclusion, he noted that Uganda has an opportunity to benefit from its population demographics by harness the demographic dividend and investing in its young people through reducing fertility, supporting girl child education, increasing access to contraceptives, empowering women and girls and reducing their risk to all form of violence, skilling young people with entrepreneurship and innovative skills to engage in job creation among others.
He said that Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum is committed to amplifying the voices of young people and will continue to build their capacity to advocate for, hold accountable and demand from duty bearers; access to quality youth friendly services i.e (comprehensive HIV services, access to contraceptives, MNCH services, safe abortion services), access to SRH information; (including information on; sexuality education, menstrual hygiene, prevention and reporting cases of violence i.e, \Child marriages, FGM, SGBV, teenage pregnancies, stigm and discrimination) and demand for meaningful youth participation in decision making.
In the Picture above is Patrick Mwesigye the Founder and Team Leader Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum pausing with participants at the dialogue.
The Yong Mothers Forum at Naguru Teenage Center, marked the forth young Mothers’ Forum organised by UYAHF under their campaign dubbed #YoungPeople4SafeMotherHood. The campaign has so far reached out to about 500 young people 80% of whom are adolescent mothers and adolescents girls at high risk of pregnancy and child birth. The over all goal of the campaign is to provide a platform for young people and especially young mothers to learn, dialogue, share their experience about the key concepts of safe motherhood make recommendations and suggest solutions to improving access to maternal and child health services for young mothers as well as commit to contribute to efforts geared at ending maternal mortality and morbidity.