Public Health Ambassadors Uganda | Project Officer
Religious leaders have often been left out of SRHR advocacy strategies, yet their influence is critical.
Uganda is characterised by a diversity of religious groups and practices, each with its own perceptions of sexuality education. As culture and religion are intertwined, many believers still practice some cultural values and norms to live harmoniously in their communities. Parents and religious leaders often have misconceptions of sexuality education, so there has been a gap in strengthening advocacy efforts to implement a sexuality education policy in Uganda.
"Being a youth ambassador has changed my life," Abou Diallo says. "I’ve become more and more the person I dream of being. Young people and adults come to me now for information on reproductive health and family planning." Photo courtesy of Abou Diallo.
Young leaders have the power to reach their peers and communities in ways most government officials can’t.
Abou Diallo was on vacation with his family when his girlfriend showed up to see him, agitated and worried. She hadn’t had her period for two months, she told him. A pregnancy test confirmed their fears.
University of South Florida | Doctoral Student/Research Associate
NGOs have established temporary clinics for IDPs in Northeastern Nigeria, but sexual and reproductive health services are still largely inadequate. Photo: Oluyemisi Falope
When I arrived, the insurgency was still trying to push back, launching attacks and using suicide bombers; the Nigerian army fought back. We could hear and feel bombs and shells going off every now and then. It is not something you get accustomed to: You just say your prayers and hope it is the soldiers warding off the insurgents.
WIL Uganda | Reproductive and Sexual Health Intern
Male students take part in the sexual and reproductive health programme at Townside Secondary School, Busembatia. Photo: Noraly Schiet, 2017
In Eastern Uganda, when a teenage girl becomes pregnant, she will stop attending school and instead, begin a life rearing children and looking after the family home and land. Teenage pregnancy remains high in Uganda, where more than one-third of girls give birth before the age of 18. Predictably, this is higher in rural areas. As well as teenage pregnancy, women and girls here face many sexual and reproductive health (SRH) challenges throughout their lives, including sex in exchange for “necessities,” poor menstrual hygiene, and a lack of access to family planning methods. This is why teaching and empowering girls from a young age about sexual and reproductive health and rights is a must. As part of the small grassroots organisation Women in Leadership (WIL) Uganda, based in Busembatia, for the last three months I have been doing just that across a number of schools.
This piece, including a slideshow of youth ambassadors, was originally published on IntraHealth International's blog, VITAL.
Romaric Ouitona, president of Youth Ambassadors in Benin, speaks to his peers at a youth center that offers family planning services and education in Dangbo, Benin. Photo by Trevor Snapp for IntraHealth International.
They’re informed, determined, and looking ahead for the good of their peers—and their countries.
They want to help girls stay in school. To take control of their own futures. To make sure other young people don’t make the same mistakes or have to live the same nightmares they did.
Fatouma Nina Koné, a Family Planning Youth Ambassador from Burkina Faso, was recently featured on FP Voices.
In my role on the Knowledge for Health (K4Health) Project, I work on a number of initiatives and activities, all from my cozy home office in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Over the last few years, between pregnancies, breastfeeding, and caring for two small children, I’ve stayed close to home. At the same time, I’ve watched my colleagues travel the world, interviewing family planning policy makers, implementers, service providers, and clients for Family Planning Voices, the global storytelling initiative we lead in partnership with Family Planning 2020. I get the opportunity to review all of our stories, schedule them for publication, and post them to our photo blog and social media sites. But I share something in common with our readers: I have never met most of the individuals whose stories I shepherd through the publication process, and I probably never will.
Sunita Prajapati, right, an accredited social health activist, counsels village women on maternal health at her village in Uttar Pradesh, India. Prajapati owns an Android phone with two specific apps, part of the ReMIND program, in which she maintains the record of all the pregnant and lactating mothers in her vicinity. (Credit: Jen Hardy/CNS-Catholic Relief Services.)
The newborn period is the most vulnerable time in a child’s life. While remarkable global progress has been made in the last decade to decrease child mortality, neonatal mortality reductions have occurred much more slowly. Today, nearly all newborn deaths are preventable with the current understanding of effective interventions and service delivery approaches for women and their children across the life course. There is unprecedented potential to end preventable newborn deaths and stillbirths and ensure a healthy foundation in the first month of life for lifelong wellbeing and development.
When I was in training to become a midwife, a flight attendant, with no money and in critical condition, arrived at the maternity ward of Yalgado Ouédraogo hospital in Ouagadougou after getting a botched abortion. My colleagues and I put money together to buy her essential medicines, but she eventually died—even after we administered the medicines. We were shocked. And I thought, we must do something to improve women’s reproductive health. When I think that this woman could have been saved if she’d had access to contraception earlier, I’m reminded of my reason for becoming a midwife—to save human beings.