Issue 719 - Page 19

After the successful implementation of the In Their Hands Kenya programme in the last three years , the programme aims at increasing the uptake of contraceptive services among adolescent girls ( 15-19 ) to reduce the incidence of unintended pregnancies .
The programme is funded by the Aga Khan Foundation ( AKF ) and the Children ’ s Investment Fund Foundation ( CIFF ) of which AKF Uganda and Triggerise are implementing partners . The ITH programme is targeting 20,000 adolescent girls between 15 -19 years in Arua and Kampala districts for one year .
Rowena Kamasai , the programme lead , says that they hope to see a future where adolescent girls are no longer burdened by unplanned pregnancies but are adapting to healthy behaviours and self-efficacy .
According to Kamasai , the young people can access quality adolescent reproductive health services and work with communities , they hope to remove barriers to accessing quality comprehensive health services for teenage girls .
“ Through immersive research with adolescent girls , health workers as well as line ministry and local government officials , it is noted that despite a supportive policy environment there are still limitations regarding quality adolescent-friendly service provision ,” she said .
Challenges young girls face accessing SRH
Charles Owekmeno , the National Coordinator of SRH Alliance Uganda says that most adolescent girls and young women lack information regarding their sexual health , what services are available and who and where to go if they experience violations such as sexual assault .
“ In instances of sexual assault , fear and stigma prevented adolescent girls and young women from going to the police , and instead , disputes were handled informally between families ,” Owekmeno says .
Irene Nakayiza a 17-year-old mother of one and a beneficiary of TIKO says that she understands one may visit a health facility for seeking SRH information , even though when not anticipating having sexual intercourse .
“ But , you know , our community may regard you as if you have already indulged in premarital sexual activity if someone sees you seeking the service ,” she says .
“ When I think of visiting a health facility for SRH reasons , the thing that comes into my mind is what the community talk behind me . Thus , I usually send someone to buy an emergency birth control pill from a pharmacy rather than visiting a health facility by myself ,” she adds .
She says on occasions when she has gone to the pharmacy to buy the drugs , she says they are often too pricey for her .
“ When I reach the pharmacy where am to buy the drugs from , the drugs are Shs . 30,000and I only have Shs . 10,000 in my bag , so I find that medication too expensive ,” she says .
She says she often resorts to using unregulated traditional medicine .
“ In that case , I will just go and pluck
Young girls are taken advantage of when trying to better their education or obtain jobs
News ANALysis
some “ omululuza ” and “ kamunye ” and I drink because it is the cheaper option that will help me ,” she says .
Owekmeno says there is a poor habit of communication between adolescents and their parents when it comes to sexual health matters .
“ Adolescents are ashamed and fear asking for parental approval when intending to visit the health facility for SRH purposes ,” he says , “ They usually choose to remain silent regarding their sexual health issues or discuss them to close friends who themselves have limited information , rather than engaging their families because they fear being assumed of being sexually active ,”
Jackson Chekweko , the Executive
Director of Reproductive Health Uganda says that money and poverty play a significant role in the violation of adolescent girls ’ and young women ’ s rights .
“ Young girls are taken advantage of when trying to better their education or obtain jobs ,” he says .
High alcohol and drug use amongst men is also one of the many underlying causes of domestic violence toward women .
“ Sexual domestic violence is high in areas like this . For us men , the rate of drinking alcohol and drug abuse you know what these result into . When they go back home , they harass women , because of poverty and other things . So , our sisters have got problems because domestic violence is high and rape ,” Chekweko noted
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