A LEAP OF HOPE AS WESTNILE GETS NEW REGIONAL CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE TO ADDRESS YOUTH SEXUAL RERODUCTIVE HEALTH CHALLENGES
For more than a decade now, the young people in the west Nile region have been exposed to several health challenges including unplanned and unintended pregnancies, Gender based violence (GBV), among others. These have in turn led to increased school dropout, child headed homes, poor economic wellbeing of the young people and their families. The COVID19 lockdowns and restrictions on movements further worsened the already existing dire situation.
According to the Education department of the Lugbara Cultural institution, more than three-thousand (3,000) girls got pregnant in the greater West Nile region during the Covid-19 lockdown. The Minister of Education in Lugbara Kari said that their findings indicated that some of the girls were impregnated by their parents and security guards deployed in their homes.
Sarah (not real name) is among the many young girls who gave birth during the lockdown. Sarah was raped by her aunt’s husband after she had failed to return to her real home due to the lockdown. Her hopes for returning back to school have since been shuttered by this ordeal. She narrated her story to our health worker at the Oli HCIV Youth corner saying that she now lives in so much fear since she cannot disclose some of the scenarios to her actual biological father.
Naguru Teenage Information and Health Centre (NTIHC) in partnership with the Arua City leadership has set up a Regional Centre of Excellence that is going to support young people in the region to access youth friendly sexual and reproductive health services. The center of excellence that is being hosted at Oli HCIV in Arua Central division shall strengthen youth friendly health service delivery within the region, integrate socio economic interventions to meet the economic needs of young people, especially those out-of-school.
To further close existing health gaps in the region, NTIHC will look at engaging the regional leaders through various advocacy fora. During the 2019 World Population Day the regional leaders committed to supporting investments for harnessing the Demographic Dividend (DD) by domesticating and integrating DD interventions in the Local Government plans and annual budgets. Investing in young people through refocusing on improving the quality of education to ensure that the young people especially the girl complete primary and secondary education. Investing in skills development through increased tertiary education, innovation and entrepreneurship, enhancing creation of quality jobs and getting more young people into meaningful employment. Strengthening health system to ensure a healthy population, child survival and reduction in deaths of mothers due to pregnancy related complications and child birth; increasing access of young people to sexual and reproductive health information and services and renewing the promise of empowering youth to contribute significantly to socio economic transformation and development.
NTIHC will through the regional center of excellence follow up on these commitments.
Figure 2; Teenage mothers waiting to see a health worker at the youth corner
Compiled by Thembo Joshua – BCC/Advocacy Coordinator