Uganda held its 2nd National Family Planning Conference in Kampala last month. The conference was organized by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in collaboration with FP2020 donor focal points for Uganda (UNFPA, DFID, USAID), as well as World Health Organization, National Population Council, Uganda Family Planning Consortium and other development partners.
Reach A Hand Uganda took the time to talk to young people, both in and out of schools, about their views on family planning. We sought to understand their ideas about the most immediate and logical solution to demand and access to contraceptive information and services.
The demand is evidenced in the 2016 Demographic Health Survey. Among young, sexually active and unmarried women surveyed, 83% expressed that they wanted to have access to contraception. While it is plausible – based on national statistics – that 51% of those women already do have access, that leaves 32% with their demand unmet.
The youth we talked to were all in favour of universal access to both information and services around contraception and family planning. This didn’t surprise us, knowing the statistics mentioned above. With the high numbers of young people who turned up to talk to us, and the positive ambience, it was clear this topic is important to youth in Uganda.
In the video we recorded, the youth voiced a call for all those over the age of 18 to have full time access to contraception – especially condoms – because, as 20-year-old Mpagi Jamiru said, sometimes you relate with people whose lifestyles you may not know much about.
Mpagi is a mechanic, like many out-of-school young people in Uganda. He spends most of his day working at a garage in Nsambya with his friends. Beyond this, though, Mpagi is a young man who is taking his own health and safety seriously.
“The best thing about using condoms is that you safeguard yourself from very many diseases”, he stressed. He urges his peers to get tested, know their status and live carefully.
We also spoke to Namara Judith, who hit the nail on the head when he said: “We need family planning to help the youth because they over-play sex”.
This is well backed up by the 2016 Demographic Health Survey which shows that those aged 15-24 are most likely to be having sex with multiple partners – at 2.7% of those surveyed (with that rate increasing to 3.3% in the sub age group of 20-24-year-olds).
Proscovia Alimo, a 19-year-old, argued that young people need extended access to other health services such as safe male circumcision on top of increased availability of family planning services.
We were delighted to find that all of the young people we talked to had heard of family planning before. It was even better to hear that some were already using different methods. This is proof that more young people than ever are making informed decisions with regards the safety of their lives.
We believe that it is only fair that a group taking their health so seriously ought to have access to the contraceptive methods and family planning information they need to keep themselves safe.