“I have been a health worker and most of the people I work with are in the rural area. Despite the high levels of poverty, and unemployment in Amudat this has not stopped the rapid increase in the population and general childbirth, ” says Acheng Esther the acting District Health Officer Amudat district.
Uganda registered its first coronavirus case on March 21, 2020, and since then, the country’s core health systems diverted most of their effort to combating and containing the pandemic. Acheng adds that health services like family planning, maternity were left in the gutters with the littlest attention to them as there could be.
As much as this apparent neglect seems justifiable, we cannot entirely overlook the need to attend to SRHR services. Due to the limited travel restrictions following the president’s directives, there was minimal HIV testing and increased health complications of people in the Amudat communities. This is because even those that desired to access services and treatment or drugs, this was impossible.
For most women in the Karamoja region, it is up to their husband’s discretion to decide on whether they should use a contraceptive method of choice. This leaves the former out in a matter of planning for how many children they should have yet they are tasked with the responsibility of keeping the baby their wombs. This results in most families having more children than they can take care of effectively with the scarcity of resources.
With the RISE (Reducing high fertility rates and Improving Sexual reproductive health), Reach A Hand Uganda with support from UNFPA, has managed to utilize the ambulance services to deliver COVID-19 suspected patients to isolation and quarantine centers. We have also used the same ambulance services to pick up expectant mothers in remote areas and deliver them to health centers.
Community mobilization initiatives through the RISE program in the region have helped to extend SRHR information to the people in the remote communities. RAHU has organised Peer Educator trainings in the region to teach young people the importance of utilizing contraceptives but also so that they can extend the information to their peers. This has helped to demystify myths associated with family planning that are widely spread in areas like Karamoja.