Sexual and Reproductive Health is Our fundamental Human right

by Amref Health Africa

Bold commitments have been made by governments  across the African region in a number of international and regional declarations, conventions and agendas, which point to the important  shift in safe guarding all rights, including the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for young people.  These   provide clear guidance to countries in enacting laws, policies, charters  that affect adolescent SRHR.

On February  11th , 2019 Amref Health Africa together with other partners under the Health Systems Advocacy program  ie HEPs –Uganda and ACHEST convened an inter generational dialogue that brought together different stakeholders include young people, youth leaders , religious leaders, local government , Ministry of Health officials and  like minded organizations in Health Advocacy for SRH.

During the dialogue it was clear in the discussions that the ability to achieve healthy and empowered adolescents and young people hinges on a supportive legal and policy environment  which will ensure that every person can exercise their fundamental right to SRH. Many young people and adolescents face barriers of exercising their rights to SRH information and care.  Many are forced into marriage and are vulnerable to unintended pregnancies, risky child birth, unsafe  abortions,  HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.

Victoria Nalule the Executive Director of Tunaweza Foundation; addressing participants during the Inter generational dialogue at Kabira Country club recently.

Bob Owinyi the Youth  Councilor Soroti District shared  that even those who are equipped  with the right information may not access the health services they need to protect themselves due to the stigma surrounding young people’s request for SRH information from the health facilities mainly elderly health workers question one’s integrity.

During the dialogue  the Deputy Head of mission cooperation  at the Netherlands Embassy , Joris Van Bommel, commended the fact that the SRHR agenda is being pushed by more than just the NGOs.  It has brought together  the  key stakeholder who are the youth through their representatives, this nature of dialogue creates greater avenues  to address patent sexual reproductive  health issues concerning the youth since they are the future.

Bommel said his government  will increase support to Uganda on sexual and reproductive health services and hopes that this dialogue does not end .  it has to be a continues discussion that triggers the need to put SRHR  as a priority on the Leadership agendas because the youth and young people are the majority population and therefore their needs must be paramount.  He signed on to the pledge board  which said “ Increase the involvement of youth in all stages of program and policy making – from designing , planning, implementation , monitoring and evaluation .  This will allow youth to fully explore their potential and innovation;

As the youth presented their communique’  they called  upon the government of Uganda to ;

  • Publish the Adolescent clients’ charter and make it accessible to all in the fifty three gazette languages spoken in Uganda.
  • Improve access to life skills/ sexuality education – use of trained teachers and peer educators.
  • Install youth friendly health services and provide appropriate training to the service providers handling adolescents.
  • Expedite completion of key polices, for example,, the national SRHR policy 2018 that is still in draft.
  • Involve young people in policy making processes up to the grass root as the urban and rural youth seem to have different perceptions regarding SRH services and rights.
  • Develop enabling policies and making them practical by resourcing for implementation of the policies.
  • Enhance a social and cultural environment that upholds the SRHR of young people, for example , address cultural barriers.
  • Include an SRHR information pack in curricula for learners in higher institutions especially in their entry year
  • Provide equal and quality services of SRH for youth living with disabilities as it is their health right too.

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