Over the past 5 years, the Get up speak Out program has been providing services to the young people in the Busoga areas of Jinja, Bugiri, Iganga, and Mayuge. In every year of implementation, there has always been a week-long series of a provision of services and information dubbed the Alliance week. However, due to COVID19 and measures meant to curb Coronavirus, this year’s Alliance week(10th -14th August 2020) was different, schools were closed, there was an observation of social distancing in communities and health facilities as opposed to the past years.
Under the theme “Action Towards Youth SRHR For National Development,” and observing maximum S.O. Ps, we kicked off the Alliance week with an Inter-generational dialogue at sunset hotel which was mostly online and joined by some participants. The event was graced by the Youth minister from the Busoga kingdom, a representative from the ministry of health, and other stakeholders. Discussions during this dialogue cantered around the growing numbers of SRHR challenges in the Busoga region during the lockdown. Mr. Kisambira Eria, a school’s inspection officer affirmed the declaration by the government to allow girls back to school after giving birth. This is as a result of what has been happening, schools have been stopping children from going back to school after Giving birth. However, the overwhelming rates of teenage pregnancy during lock-down has posed authorities to re-think about this act.
Busoga region is also affected greatly by the COVID19 since the schools where young people used to get information are now on lock-down. This, therefore, calls for a need to package sexuality education information well and work with role models young people listen to while at home. The school environment has been a great resource and now parents started appreciating what teachers have done to protect their children. The Alliance week was therefore focused on ensuring that information and services are reached out to young people.
From the second to the fifth day, we had integrated community outreaches in the areas Butagaya, Buwenge, Budondo, and Bugembe respectively. Young people were able to access free SRHR services and information which was really a challenge because of the lock-down. Young people accessing family planning methods were more than before and when asked, one of them said that she had seen her classmates become pregnant during the lock-down and did not want the same to happen to her since she was not abstaining. On each outreach, we had a legal and rights mentorship camp by our partner CEHURD. These provided legal support on cases related to SRHR and made case follow-ups as required. A case in point was an 8-year-old child who was defiled at the time when we had an outreach in the Buwenge sub-county. We helped her to get treatment and filed at a case at the police station which we will follow up to ensure that justice prevails for this child.
According to the World Health Organization, Uganda has an annual demand of about 340,000 units of blood but falls short by over 100,000 units. We, therefore, had a blood donation drive as part of our outreaches and by Friday we had collected over 40 units from two sub-counties. Uganda. Maternal health challenges in Busoga region and countrywide is threatened by inadequate blood in the different blood