The annual RMNCAH (Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health) Youth Summit was held from the 26th to the 27th June. The summit aimed at tackling coordination, accountability and quality access to RMNCAH. This great platform brought together young people from schools across Uganda, civil society organisations, government representatives, and relevant development partners.
It highlighted numerous issues affecting young people including teenage pregnancy and STIs among many other SRHR issues. RAHU was present at this summit to engage with young people on issues surrounding SRHR. We also exhibited how we are using innovations like the Sauti Plus and the SautiPlus E referral system to ease access to SRHR information and youth friendly services.
This year’s youth summit was a keen reminder that we should speak up and hold government accountable. Government accountability was discussed by Sarah Opendi, the State Minister of Health for General duties and other panel members. It came out clearly that competing priorities and misuse of funds present major issues for providing adequate services within RMNCAH. To address these issues, we are glad the Ministry of Health has undergone restructuring to prioritize adolescents, reflecting Uganda’s growing youth population.
It was a great moment watching Hon. Sarah Opendi give her keynote. She passionately advocated for young people. Calling for organizations to innovate and use of mobile phones to increase access to correct information regarding RMNCAH. She rightly believes that this can be pivotal in reducing the prevalence of myths and misconceptions that are leading to risky sexual behavior and restrict the uptake of RMNCAH services. We are glad that as RAHU we are already innovating in this line to reach more young people.
In the exhibition hall, organizations set up booths to visually display their work within the SRHR space. Paul Wanyama, our Innovations Analyst presented the SautiPlus app to the stakeholders present at the summit. He explained how the app provides accurate and reliable information on Sexual and Reproductive health in a convenient manner. We engaged the young people present showing them how the app can help transform their lives in a manner that is age appropriate. The app is a way of disseminating reliable information that can dispel the misconceptions that exist surrounding RMNCAH.
Our favorite part was the third session where the summit was split into small groups, guided by a facilitator, to encourage an open discussion of RMNCAH challenges. This session allowed for a wide range of issues to be discussed including religious barriers and access to adequate Reproductive health services. Rural areas tend to be disadvantaged in terms of the quality of care they can access.
The nurses posted at these rural health centers are insufficiently trained in the area of RMNCAH and the provision of youth friendly services. This greatly constrains Uganda’s commitment to target adolescents within the healthcare system. Further, peer educator programmes were highlighted as a successful way to mobilize and educate the youth on RMNCAH. Click here to find out more information on our Peer Educators Academy which equips young people with information and skills on SRHR.
This Youth summit was a great reminder that a triple dividend exists from targeting and investing in Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH). If the right investments are made now in RMNCA, Adolescents will benefit now, they will also benefit from this investment when they become adults, and future generations will also benefit. Addressing RMNCAH challenges should be a collaborative effort from the household to the national level.