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According to United Nations estimates, teenagers aged 10 to 19 years account for up to 16% of the world’s population, or 1.2 billion people. “An estimated 1.2 million teenagers die every year, largely from preventable causes,” according to a UNICEF report on adolescent health and well-being. So, according to the World Health Organization reports, many people die prematurely as a result of a variety of circumstances including homicide, suicide, violence, motor vehicle accidents, pregnancy and childbirth complications, and so on.

Uganda has one of the world’s youngest populations, according to UNFPA statistics, with yearly population increase estimated at 3.0 percent (among the highest in the world). Adolescents account for a quarter of the country’s population, with many having limited access to excellent education, health, and social services.

By the age of 19, 25% of Ugandan teenagers become pregnant, according to the Ministry of Health. Around 49% marry before they turn 18 and start having children until they are in their mid-forties. Other sexual and reproductive health issues that adolescents experience are numerous. Emergency Obstetric Care is frequently required for complicated childbirths and abortions. HIV infection is one of the most frequent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). A typical Ugandan rural community consists of large families with unevenly spaced children.

Adolescents make up Uganda’s largest demographic group, but sexual and reproductive health information and services to fulfill their needs are still scarce, according to Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, Minister of Health (when she was still serving as Director General of Health Services). Since 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) Uganda Country Office has worked with the Ministry of Health (MoH) to develop the service delivery system in order to realize the country’s fast-rising young population’s sexual and reproductive health rights in order to limit challenges faced by young people in acquiring SRHR Services.

In Uganda, adolescent sexual and reproductive health information and services, which improve the ability to avoid unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STIs), and all forms of sexual violence and coercion, are still lacking, and this has been exacerbated by the coronavirus lockdown. This leaves Ugandan teenagers with few options when it comes to effective sexual behaviour promotion, access to family planning services and information, general knowledge on sexual and reproductive health issues, abortion and post-care, condom use, and STI management.

The Ugandan government has implemented a variety of policies and measures to address some of the issues that young people experience in the country, including the National Adolescent Policy for Uganda, 2004, The Ugandan School Health Policy, as well as the Standards and Guidelines for Reducing Maternal Mortality from Unsafe Abortions in Uganda (April 2005), have yet to be finalized and implemented.

The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated a situation that was already difficult. Due to the lockdown, vital Sexual and Reproductive Health services such as modern contraception, especially condoms, have been difficult to obtain in Uganda during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdown has interrupted education, putting young people at risk of Gender-Based Violence and unintended births. The situation has been worsened by the growth in internet prices, which have restricted access to information.


The National Youth Council was founded by the National Youth Council Statute 1993 to unite Uganda’s youth, involve them in activities that benefit them and the country, and safeguard them from manipulation. District-level Youth Councils are used at the grassroots level to interact with community leaders on problems that affect the community. Youth councils are also used to involve youth in government initiatives and to provide any updates or partnerships with non-profit groups as well as information about forthcoming community activities.

The National Youth Council is made up of Youth Members of Parliament and members elected through the Electoral College system of election created by members of the National Youth Council meeting, and ensuring that they have access to essential information is critical to policy implementation and Youth leaders can also help with the monitoring of government and private youth development programs.

To reduce the barriers that young people confront in gaining access to SRHR and improving their livelihood, the Uganda National Youth Council should:

  • Advocate for the improvement, provision, and growth of information, guidance, and counselling services, as well as making them more youth-friendly by removing all legal, regulatory, structural, medical, and attitudinal impediments to accessing such services.
  • Advocate for the development of creative approaches to mobilizing resources for youth services, with a focus on collaboration with the federal, state, and local governments, as well as NGOs and the private sector.
  • Ensure that young women and men are fully protected from all forms of violence, including gender-based violence, sexual abuse, and exploitation, while also fostering the victim’s psychological rehabilitation and social and economic reintegration.
  • Ensure that all actions and policies established to alleviate some of the issues that young people in Uganda face are put in place.
  • Advocate for a favourable socio-cultural environment that engages adolescents and protects them from harmful traditional behaviours, beliefs, and culturally-based gender discrimination and practices.
  • Collaborate on drug abuser recovery with youth, youth service organizations, parents, and the community, with a focus on social reintegration.
    Ensure that refugee youth and those who are internally displaced have access to programs and services, paying special attention to their requirements for essential social services such as education, health care, and skills training.
  • Adults, families, communities, institutions, and policymakers must equip adolescents with relevant life skills and mobilize adults, families, communities, institutions, and policymakers to establish a safe and supportive environment for youth growth and development.
  • To promote Youth Council structures and other Youth Programs, advocate for a review and harmonization of the National Youth Council law 1993, the Local Government Act 1997, and the Decentralization Policy.


  • Training, educating, and having ongoing discussions on sexual and reproductive health and rights issues with key stakeholders such as members of the National Youth Council executive committee will improve members’ knowledge and attitudes about adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health and rights.
  • In order to address the challenges that have resulted in higher rates of unmet needs for Sexual and Reproductive Health Services and Information, the government should support the well-being of young people in Uganda by committing to finalize all pending policies, such as the National School Health Policy. This will allow young people to gain access to services and information, as well as ensure that those that already exist are implemented.
  • Due to the lockdown, youth-friendly safe spaces where young people could comfortably access SRHR information and services were closed, leaving many young people exposed to various risks related to reproductive health and well-being. To overcome these issues, civil society organizations should rely on social media innovations to address young people’s SRHR challenges.
  • The task team should also create interactive radio shows and television broadcasts in their communities to reach out to more young people with messages, which will assist engage them rather than leaving them idolized because schools are closed.
  • The Ugandan government, in collaboration with civil society organizations, must incorporate SRHR into Covid-19 responses from the beginning. This will enable adolescents to gain access to SRHR-related information and services, with the goal of providing services to even unemployed youth.
  • Because they are the ones at home with these young people after schools, universities, and institutions close due to lockdown, civil society organizations should empower parents and guardians with SRHR information that they will pass on to the young people. This will enable the young to make informed decisions and, most importantly, to stay motivated and hopeful.

For God and My Country.


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