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High teenage pregnancies blamed on contraceptives

The topic of availing sexually active teenagers with contraceptives has always been an explosive one, but one health worker is convinced it is one way to curb hiking rates of pregnancy in the age group.

Dr Placid Mihayo, the senior consultant and focal person for family planning at the health ministry, believes teenage pregnancy rates are persistently high due to low availability and accessibility of contraceptives and other family planning (FP) services in the country.

“Tackling these challenges requires cross-sectoral collaborations, innovative approaches and making the most out of all the available interventions for promoting family planning accessibilities,” he said.

Mihayo, who represented the state minister for Health (general duties), Sarah Opendi, at a family planning stakeholders’ meeting last week, told The Observer that family planning programs improve health, nutrition and education opportunities, and contribute to improvement in labour productivity.

“Research shows inclusive family planning programmes reduce injustices between the rich and the poor and decrease poverty but fosters inclusive economic growth,” he said. 

Teenagers learn how to use a female condom

Mihayo advised government to scale up the delivery of family planning services to reach intended groups. The director general, National Population Council (NPC), Jotham Musinguzi, said: “Life expectancy is improving and the fertility rate is coming down, but demographic dividend is not good enough.

Contraceptive prevalence rate is going up but 28 per cent of couples who want to use family planning don’t have access to them. Infant and maternal mortality rate is coming down, but not good enough. Teenage pregnancy is not reducing due to [inaccessibility] of family planning.”

Alain Sibenaler, the UNFPA representative, said there is need to advocate and strengthen reproductive health and family planning as a pillar for improved maternal health.

Call to Action

The senior national program officer, NPC, Charles Musana, said since Uganda has reached an acceleration phase in the modern contraceptive prevalence rate (MCPR) and the policy environment is conducive for continued growth of reproductive health programs, they will increase MCPR for more women and girls at an annual rate of not less than two per cent.

“We shall support the establishment and motoring of a national family planning budget line that supports the ever-increasing need and demand for contraceptives and services,” he said.

Musana also said they are going to support the National Medical Stores in procurement of contraceptives and related equipment and supplies, to increase access and use of long-acting reversible and permanent methods of contraception.

zurah@observer.ug

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