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Amid COVID19, UNFPA outreaches increase access to sexual and reproductive health and rights services

In Uganda, like many parts of the world, the COVID19 pandemic is having a significant effect on the way of life of many societies and vulnerable groups. Most significant, COVID19 mobility restrictions have reduced access to family planning services as well as essential reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH) services posing risks of women and girls facing unwanted pregnancy.

 

To address this, UNFPA has taken bold steps to increase access to family planning services to the most underserved communities in northern Uganda districts Lamwo, Amuru and Kitgum. Through a five -day targeted outreaches, UNFPA reached out to thousands of women, men and young people to ensure their right to SRHR information and services is protected. Consequently, a total of 920 women accessed short and long term family planning methods, while 446 young people received condoms. In addition, 2,379 young people and women were provided with accurate information on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).

 

A total of 498 women were screened and found to have experienced gender based violence during the lock down and counseled and 1,531 people were tested for HIV counseling and screened. In line with the Ministry of Health guidelines for continuity of essential services during the COVID19 pandemic, another 310 people were screened for non-communicable diseases including hypertension and diabetes. 


A twenty-two year old  (mother of four children) being counseled on
​​​​ various family planning methods during an outreach in Ocira East -
Lamwo District. She opted for and was administered Implanon NXT.
(PHOTO: UNFPA/Simon Ichumur.​).

 

The targeted outreaches focused on the hard- to- reach communities with limited access to family planning services based on the DHIS2 data with some communities located up to 25 kms away from the nearest health facility.

 

Mobilization for the outreaches was done by use of the local community health structures including village health teams, role model men, youth champions SASA! activists and LC1 Chairpersons while avoiding massive community drives that would result in crowding. During the outreaches, all the COVID-19 prevention measures as per the guidelines from Ministry of Health were enforced at each outreach site.

 

Prior to the outreaches UNFPA supported intra and inter district re-distribution of family planning commodities aimed at addressing the disruptions in supply chain systems as a result of the lock down.

 

 UNFPA will continue to support districts to conduct this targeted outreaches so as to make a contribution towards averting the projected seven million additional unintended pregnancies world wide by offering rural women, young people and couples with continued ability and choices to plan their families so as to promote the wellbeing of their households, communities and the country at large.

 

-Written by Simon Ichumur