Pre-Service Training for Family Planning in Uganda

USHAPE are honoured to again share with you an article written by the American journalist Barbara Thomas, whilst undertaking missionary work in Uganda. On this occasion Barbara has written about the Family Planning Training undertaken by nurses and staff at Bwindi Community Hospital.


Family Planning Training for Uganda Nursing School Students

Barbara Thomas


Speaking on sexual education and family planning can be tricky enough in one’s own culture. When Dr. Clare Goodhart from U Shape (Uganda Sexual Health and Pastoral Education) arrived to teach Uganda Nursing School Bwindi nursing students on family planning, the topic doesn’t stop there. In conjunction with other community health workers and doctors at Bwindi Community Hospital, Clare teaches not only the various methods, pros and cons of family planning, but also engages the students in thinking about the barriers: cultural, religious, accessibility, and myths that surround the family planning subject and how to lower those barriers to educate their community.


Bwindi Community Hospital has been holding teaching and question/answer sessions in the community. Gatherings held in local churches have drawn as many as 130 youth. Contrary to intuition, instruction about sexual health delays the onset of sexual activity among youth. BCH desires to see a reduction in teenage pregnacy because of the problems it creates for the mother.


Mother’s heath is one of the primary concerns of BCH. Family planning seeks to help those families who want to be able to afford to raise their children and provide them with enough food, clothes, school fees and supplies. They teach what is relevant to their audience. If teaching in a Catholic setting, abstinance is emphasized. “Don’t just teach, let them ask questions. That’s where the real learning will take place,” one doctor advised the students. As many people in the hospital service area are not near a health center, radio messages help to educate and dispell misinformation.


The final day of family planning lessons has come. Part of the evaluation is based on small group presentations to a given scenario: a Senior 4 class, pregnant mothers, a group of men, a youth outreach. 


Do they greet and establish a rapport with the audience? How do they handle distractions? Do they speak clearly and acurately? Is their presentation overall, enjoyable to listen to?


The youth presentation won the prize with a visual of someone tossing a egg in a sealed plastic bag up into the air and catching it as the presenter called out various practices that left them vunerable to contracting HIV. The “youth” audience responded each toss with “Putting your life in danger!” Finally the presenter shouted out, “Contracted AIDS!” The egg smashed on the floor. The “youth” were left with a visual image that with medicine it could be managed, but that their life would be broken.


The nursing students demonstrated that they now have the skills and confidence to teach in the community.

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