The Ministry of Health in partnership with youth-led and youth-serving organizations organized the national Reproductive Maternal and Newborn and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) Services youth summit that took place on the 26th and 27th June 2019. Young people (10-24) constitute about 31.7% of the population and 55% of them are under the age of 18. This age group faces numerous adolescent and reproductive health challenges that have continuously led to high teenage pregnancies, early childhood bearing, unsafe abortions and acquisition of STIs, among others. The summit was therefore organized to enrich young people with knowledge to safeguard against these issues related to RMNCAH and advocate for their rights.
The SRHR Alliance Uganda was represented by young people from partner organizations who attended and exhibited works of the Get Up Speak Out program. Day one kicked off with plenary discussions among the young people and key actors who were discussing ways and strategies to take when advocating for RMNCAH services and information. The summit was graced by the State Minister of Health and General Duties Hon. Sarah Opendi. While officially opening the summit, the minister pledged to work tirelessly with the ministry to improve and increase access to services for young people at health facilities. She also expressed her dismay at parents who give their children away into marriages regardless of the government’s efforts to eradicate teenage marriages.
On day two, the major highlight was the alliance session which focused on Youth-Adult Partnerships (YAPs) implemented under the GetUp Speak Out program. The first presentation was made by Youth Country Coordinator Olga Namukuza who elaborated to the delegates how the YAPs work. ‘The Youth Adult Partnerships have fostered engagements that have resulted in the provision of space where youth can confidently voice their opinions and contribute to decision making especially at the partner and community level,” she said.
This was followed by a plenary discussion which was moderated by Innocent Nabaasa our Programs Officer. It constituted a peer educator, a religious leader, a district counselor, and a program officer. The concern raised by the young people was that they are being left out in programming at the local government especially during the budgetary process at the district level.
The summit was the first of its kind and focused on amplifying young people’s voices and we expect positive results from calls for action and pledges made.