Jul 31, 2014

Uganda Struggles with Family Planning Implementation

AUTHOR:Irin NewsSOURCE:Irin News

Uganda's Health Ministry and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) introduced a one-year program--"Let Girls Be Girls" earlier this month to address the high rate of teen pregnancies which often times lead to maternal deaths as well high abortion rates (which are illegal and a leading cause of deaths). Unfortunately, sex education and contraception counselling is being met with great opposition from Uganda's Ethics and Integrity Ministry. They believe that this project will lead to 'promiscuity and sexual immorality.' Life for Mothers (LfM) in a phase l pilot completed 2 years ago found a much greater lack of contraception counselling in young women aged 15-24 that was not being adddressed along with a much lower rate of HIV testing. This sets up a very dangerous scenario whereby women may become pregnant as well as contract HIV and then potentially transmit the virus to her newborn. Civil society must be made aware of the consequences of not providing counselling and sexual education. Unintended pregnancies are > 50% according to the Guttmacher Institute. Access to contraceptives is a reproductive and human right for women and should be respected. No institution should force their will onto women. This was clearly expressed in 1948 with the Declaration of Human Rights by the UN: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml. Life for Mothers is optimistic that Ugandan religious and other institutions will recognize the importance of the rights of women and all it's citizens. With a fertility rate well above 6 children/mother and about 6000 women dying during childbirth and pregnancy (and birth complications 10-20 X that number) it's time for a paradigm shift in policy. We at LfM appreciate that cultural mores will not change overnight but at least the push to change should commence. We applaud UNFPA and the Ministry of Health for their efforts. For the complete article please click here: http://www.irinnews.org/report/100399/uganda-teen-pregnancies-plan-under-fire

Did you know?

The risk of a woman dying in sub-Saharan Africa as a result of pregnancy or childbirth is 1 in 22, as compared to 1 in 7300 in developed regions.

Source:United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 2010

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