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Outreach camps bring sexual reproductive health services closer to young people

West Nile, Adjumani district: Twenty-two year-old Clara Mandra dropped out of school at the age of fourteen after completing primary five, because her mother was not able to raise her school fees. Soon she got married and within a period of four years, Mandra had delivered three children.

With a family to look after, Mandra says she found challenges raising them: “After dropping out of school, I thought marriage was the only option I had left. But now I realize being a young mother is a challenge as I must provide for the family,” she explains.

Mandra therefore sought to learn more about family planning and child spacing by turning up for an outreach site providing free sexual reproductive health services. The camp run from June 24th to 28th 2019 in the west Nile district of Adjumani.

Mandra says she first heard about the health outreach for young people over the radio.

“And when the announcement van passed near our village, my husband encouraged me to come here for family planning services,” said Mandra.

At the outreach site, the young people have an opportunity to receive a range of services such as; family planning, HIV testing, vaccination against cervical cancer, GBV information, antenatal and postnatal care, including referral for further medical management at nearby health facilities.

Increasing access to adolescent health services

Young people line up for SRH services in Adjumani district.
PHOTO: UNFPA/Patricia Nangiro

Like Mandra, many young people still have limited access to sexual reproductive health information and services earlier in life, to be able to make informed choices. As governments prepare to recommit to the ICPD at the Nairobi summit in November 2019, young people’s access to SRH information and services should be given priority.

Provision of quality adolescent sexual reproductive health services remains low in the West Nile region of Uganda. This region      hosts the largest percentage of refugees and asylum seekers, (597,698 out of 1,276,208) in Uganda.

A recent baseline survey commissioned by UNFPA on “Assessment of Health Facility Quality Care for Adolescents and Youth,” covering eight districts in North and West Nile region puts the quality of young people’s reproductive health services at 28 percent, which is far below the desired national threshold of 95 percent.

In order to increase reach of as many young people as possible, the district health department uses various strategies to send information through radio talk shows, radio spot messages, using local leaders and members of the Village Health Teams (VHTs) to disseminate information about where to access sexual and reproductive health services.

With funding from the Royal Danish Embassy, UNFPA in collaboration with the Ministry of Health embarked on building the capacity of health workers to provide quality adolescent friendly services within the health facilities serving both nationals and refugees, as well as widen the coverage through quarterly adolescent health outreach camps to select villages including settlements.

Over the last year, UNFPA with Ministry of Health trained 74 health workers in Adjumani district on provision of adolescent friendly services at health facilities and during outreaches. The support supervision and quarterly mentoring continues this year, to improve the quality of adolescent services.

Written by Patricia Nangiro