ARUA/ NEBBI. Arua, Nebbi and Madi Okollo districts have agreed to a new initiative by Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU) to increase funding to family planning and sexual reproductive health rights in their respective districts.
The initiative, domestic investment for family planning, with funding from UNFPA and the Royal Netherlands Embassy Kampala through RHU will see the allocations for Family planning and sexual reproductive health rights budget by the districts matched by RHU.
Speaking during the inception meeting at the respective district headquarters last week, the executive director RHU Mr Jackson Chekweko said no community has ever advanced without addressing issues of its population.
“With funding from UNFPA and the Netherlands Embassy through RHU has accepted co-fund the priorities the district has put in place on the arrangement that if the district is able to invest as much as shs100 million, we have a working agreement that they can add another 100 million to top up the efforts of the district on the 50-50 per centage”, Mr Chekweko said.
“We shall have a huge regional imbalance in the future when we allow the most useful population waste their future, we are doing what we are able to do now because our parents did their job but now when we the parents who are at stake are not doing our responsibilities, the challenge now is every community should do their best to address the most critical issue, the issue of sexual gender based violence, everyday girls are raped, everyday early marriages are happening and we have the opportunity to stop this”, Chekweko said.
In Nebbi district, Ms Joyce Angomoko, the Assistant district Health Officer Maternal health said the district decided to draw a district Family planning costed implementation plan in a bid to improve on family planning services in the district.
This she said followed an increase in teenage pregnancy, low uptake of contraceptives and lack of access to key policies like the Adolescent Health Policy and national Youth policy.
In Arua, the district chairman Mr Alfred Okuonzi said as a district they welcome the new project with both hands.
“As a district, we want to say that we receive this project with both hands, you have come to strengthen us, you are coming to add energy with the one that we already have, we receive it with both hands, we cannot say no to this project even when the district is constrained, we have to scratch here and there to make sure that we are in partnership with RHU and UNFPA”, Okuonzi said.
He asked the chief finance officer and the district health officer to look into their budgets to see to it that money is committed to the project, even contributions in kind.
“CFO, you are the chairman of the budget desk, go and work it, don’t let this district down, remember I said this district must be a model district. I will not be interested in lunch allowance, compute it, even the one for my chairman social services committee”, he said.
Okuonzi said the problem for the district has been identified as moral decay, too many teenage mothers as a result of moral decay which starts from the parents.
The chairman also requested RHU to begin the supply of emergency contraceptives alongside condoms to reduce the high number of teenage pregnancies.
Dr Denis Bakomezi, the programme Coordinator UNFPA West Nile suggested that there is need to go back to traditional ways of handling such problems if teenage pregnancy and associated issues are to be reduced.
“Although some of them were harsh, they really helped a lot in instilling discipline in the community and teenage pregnancy was unheard of”, he said.
According to findings from National population council, family planning reduces maternal mortality and morbidity directly through fewer unintended pregnancies, fewer unsafe abortions and fewer early pregnancies.
It also improves spacing and timing of pregnancy which allows the mother’s body to recover before the next pregnancy and delaying childbearing until after adolescence allows girls’ bodies to develop completely.
There has been limited access to utilization of family planning and sexual reproductive rights information and services especially among the vulnerable and marginalized populations including young people. Some SRHR interventions like family planning services have continued to experience resistance from district political leaders, cultural and religious institutions.
This is partly due to different moral interpretations, lack of accurate information as well as myths and misconceptions surrounding SRHR.