Phionah Fortunate Naigaga
I work with young people aged 10- 24years under the GeNext Uganda "My Life, My Future" project which creates awareness about and promotes family planning knowledge and practices. For the previous 2 years, we have built a network of 302 active and skilled youth champions supporting SRH and Family planning information and education campaigns, linked to World Contraception Day objectives and messages. In Uganda, contraceptive use among the young people is one of the often ignored subjects. It remains a taboo topic in the communities, surrounded with a lot of myths and misconceptions, and yet the pregnancy rates among the young people are so alarming. The teenage pregnancy rate is as high as(24% UDHS 2011) with contributing factors remaining; myths, lack of education and traditional norms.
Having been trained as a peer educator when i was a teenager, i developed passion about the SRH needs of young people. In Uganda where i am born and raised, i could see many girls drop out of school and become outcasts in the community. On interacting with many of them i discovered that its because they did not have knowledge about FP or they thought that its unhealthy at their age which is totally wrong. I commit to creating awareness about FP so that young people make informed decisions.
The community still holds strong myths about contraceptive use especially among the young people, so as an intervention we have built capacity of their fellow peers to continuously talk about FP. This has created demand for FP commodities and the health workers and data from the facilities clearly indicates the figures. As a result the communities, health workers and decision makers have responded to the SRH needs of youth and deliver youth friendly health services in the areas of operation.
Lack of information and education for young people about family planning, limited access to contraceptive use, inadequate health facilities, correlation between early and forced marriages and traditional norms. These can be addressed through advocacy for increasing funding for FP which translates into increased access to contraceptive use, build capacity of service providers, continuously create more awareness about FP and clear myths and misconceptions existing in the communities.
In the next five years i want to see communities especially young people that have knowledge about FP and they can make informed choices regarding their Sexual and Reproductive Health when to have or not have a baby (babies by choice not by chance). And making family planning commodities accessible to every one and everywhere plus a supportive environment.