The ability to achieve sexual and reproductive health and rights, including being able to decide when and whether to have children, is critical for the health and well-being of all women.
Yet new data from the Guttmacher Institute shows serious gaps in sexual and reproductive health services for adolescent women in Uganda.
Teenage pregnancy: Uganda has made significant progress in reducing teenage pregnancy. Early motherhood and childbearing has progressively declined from 43% in 1995, 31% in 2001, 25% in 2006 and 24.5% in 2011.
However, Uganda still has one of the highest rates in Sub-Sahara Africa. The current teenage pregnancy rate in Uganda is at 25%, despite the policies and strategies put in place by government and other stakeholders. The Health Sector Development Plan targeted to reduce teen age pregnancy to 14 per cent by 2020.
The lifetime opportunity cost of adolescent pregnancy in Uganda amounts to an estimated 30% of the country’s annual GDP. This per-cent could increase in the poorest households.
The disparity between educated and uneducated girls is more pronounced with teenage pregnancy being higher among uneducated girls at 35 percent compared to 17 percent of girls with secondary education. Early sexual debut, high adolescent fertility rate, unmet need for family planning, and on-going problems with sexual and gender-based violence (GBV) are some of the key issues faced by young people in terms of reproductive health.
There are many indicators that highlight a need for national sexuality education and evidence-based interventions. A one size fit all-programs might not achieve the desired impact, considering the complexities and the different contexts of the young people.
Most young people are rural based, some urban and some from special areas, not to forget the youth from refugee settlements. Policy makers, programmers and technocrats should think outside the box when programming for these young people. The deadline for the agenda is just 11 years ahead.
- Enhancing information sharing through sexual education among reproductive age women is Inspired Women Uganda’s strategy to contribute to better reproductive health in Uganda.