Anitah, not real name at 15 years old, is a teenage mother of one. The father of the baby is also slightly older however Anita’s parents arrested him and later released him so that he would fend for his new family. But this didn’t work because he had to return back to school. Apparently, Anita is at her parent’s home taking care of her 3months baby.
Anitah is among those adolescents who don’t know about their Adolescent sexual reproductive health rights due to the fact that she is in a rural setting. Many a time, civil societies targeting and advocating the same themes on reproductive health perform policy implementation in urban areas as opposed to rural areas.
To further expound on the matter, rural areas are highly faced with teenage pregnancies, information asymmetry on health issues and early childhood marriages. Hence CSOs ought to work on their toes to fill the missing gaps to ascertain the demographic dividend.
During a media engagement organized by Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum at Fairway Hotel yesterday, Health journalists and representatives from UNFPA, FHI and Kawala HC discussed insights regarding SRHR.
Paul Kato from Kawala Health Center advised CSOs to offer both infotainment and entertainment to adolescents during SRHR sensitization plenaries.
UYADHF has also coordinated 5 campaigns targeting maternal and child health, menstrual health, Youth livelihoods, and SRHR. It has reached over 1000 young people directly with family planning services and 5000 with social media under Pulani Ki? Campaign.
Contraceptive information and services by sexually active adolescents would help reduce maternal neonatal morbidity and mortality as well as the social consequences of adolescent motherhood.
The demographic dividend is the ability of the country to economically reap from the youth bulge that is estimated at 16.6million populace. Uganda is a child population because the lower base of a population pyramid comprises of 50% young people below the age of 15years.
According to Edith Akiru, UNFPA Representative, the only way to achieve the demographic dividend for the country is to reduce the fertility rate to 2 children per woman and reduce the child mortality rate. Since we have a growing share of the young population, we harness the opportunity of the age group by investing in education and skilling into relevant job market issues, health, accountability, and governance issues.
Currently, we suffer from a high dependency rate, underemployment, and vulnerable employment at 70%, therefore we need stable jobs powered by industrialization to get on the right track. However, this depends on how prepared we are and willingness to act to shun away from demographic dividend disaster.
Patrick Mwesigye, Team leader at UYAHF tackled the main health issues affecting adolescents as according to the Global Accelerated Action for the Health of Adolescents; these include alcohol drinking, interpersonal violence, malnutrition, mental health/depression, and new infections.