ARUA CITY: A cross section of local leaders have hailed the new audio and video tools for dissemination of family planning messages as a key innovation that will improve the uptake of family planning in the region.

The new messages developed in audio and video format will be used by health workers and village health teams (VHTs) and were developed by Development Media international (DMI) in conjunction with the ministry of health.

“One thing that has made me happy is that the messages are in the local language and the translations are straight forward, so I give them (DMI) my credit”, Said Mr Alfred Okuonzi, the district chairman Arua.

Mr Okuonzi who officially launched the tools on Wednesday in Arua city called on health workers to use the tools every time they go out for outreach in small groups. He expressed optimism that people will be able to embrace family planning in the region once they hear and watch the new messages.

He thanked the partners and the ministry of health for the initiative that he said will go a long way in improving what he called the ‘red zone’ of the West Nile region.

“As West Nile, we are already in danger zone in the poverty index in the country only second worst to Karamoja and part of the reason has been the poor uptake of the family planning services where people produce the number of children they can’t support, we need to urgently change course and this innovation will be a great addition in that fight”, he said.

Mr Paul Bishop Drileba, the acting district health officer (DHO) Arua said the new tools introduce another voice within the counselling mechanism that the health workers and the clients can be able to appreciate.

Drileba said the new tools also bring the opportunity to lessen the burden because the innovation is digital and a way of taking the services beyond the clinicians table.

According to the ministry of health statistics, the West Nile region has a very poor percentage of married women using family planning methods. Many experts attribute the low intake in part to the low information availability to the prospective clients.

“A woman who would prefer using a short term method may end up using a long term method and you later hear them complaining because the information is not always available on the range of choices to take, this therefore affects the others who would want to follow suit”, said Ms Shamina Kawuma from the ministry of health, department of health promotion, education and communication.

She lamented that whereas the national expected uptake of family planning among married women was 35%, the West Nile only has a dismal 19% of married women using the same which is too low compared to the national expected average.

Ms Kawuma also noted that whereas the national average of number of children produced is supposed to be 5 per woman, in West Nile the average was between 6-7 children.

Ms Sanyu Kalibala, the Country operation manager DMI said the new tools are expected to reach the poorest and most marginalised communities to help them make informed decisions on family planning.

“We intend to reach the poorest of the poor and the most marginalised members of the community so they can get information on family planning because people can’t make informed decisions if they don’t have the right information”, she said.

Ms KalibalaMs Kalibala shows the video tool that contains the messages (PHOTO BY RIMILIAH AMANDU)

Apart from the ministry of health, DMI also works with other development partners under the wish to action consortium. Other members of the consortium include Marie stopes Uganda, Reproductive Health, International Rescue Committee, Humanity and Inclusion and Options consultants with each having a different role to play in achieving the collective goals.