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From December 11 to 13, 2013, more than 300 participants including doctors, members of parliament, ministers, midwives, civil society activists, young people, academicians, local government leaders, religious and cultural leaders converged at Imperial Royale Hotel to discuss family planning. It was the first National Family Planning Knowledge Fair and Stakeholder's Meeting in Uganda.

The meeting created a platform for stakeholders to assess progress, share experiences and good practices and called for renewed commitment towards Family Planning, as a way of ensuring women's health and empowerment. 
The State Minister for Primary Health Care, Sarah Opendi, who was the chief guest, said that the government will do more to increase access to family planning, including recruiting more health workers to reduce the shortage of health personnel. It had been earlier highlighted that due to shortage of staff, family planning is one of the services given least priority, especially at lower level health centers.

At a panel discussion featuring prominent religious personalities, cultural analysts, young people and academicians, the misconception that the Catholic Church is against family planning was challenged.

According to Fr. Peter Mubiru of Jinja Diocese, the Catholic Church is not against family planning, as long as it promotes responsibility and encourages humans to have the dignity they deserve. 
"As the Catholic Church we must teach all the types of family planning to the people at all levels so that people can make responsible decisions, said Fr. Mubiru.

He quoted the bible in Genesis chapter 1, verse 28, "Then God blessed them, and God said, be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it...", underlining that God stressed a quality population, not quantity.
Representing young people on the panel, Ms. Nargis Shiraz called for urgent action to ensure that young people receive information regarding sexuality - even at home. She cautioned parents who pretend that their 10 year old children know nothing about sex yet they (parents) go ahead to expose them to soaps with sex scenes.

The meeting ended on a high note with stakeholders making input into the National Family Planning Strategic Plan. They recommitted to ensure increased access to family planning for Ugandan women and girls and made a call to action for government to put in place the necessary infrastructure that will make it possible for men, women and girls to realize this right.

"I recommend that the Government of Uganda expedites the finalization and costing of Uganda's Family Planning Scale up Plan and puts in place a monitoring framework and mechanisms for tracking Uganda's family planning goals and commitments," said UNFPA Representative, Ms. Esperance Fundira.

Picture above: Members of The Uganda Parliamentarians Forum on Food, Security, Population and Development (UPFFSP&D) waving flags reading: Go Family Planning!