“Unthinkable, unbelievable and unacceptable”

Dr Claire Marie Thomas, USHAPE In Country Clinical Lead

Every day in Uganda 16 women die during childbirth.

Of those 16, 4 are adolescents.

Young girls lives snuffed out before they have even begun.

Dying because their bodies are too young, or pregnant too soon after their last delivery to cope. These numbers do not even include those who die from unsafe abortions or suicide.

What is most tragic is that these deaths are preventable. These pregnancies are poorly planned or even unplanned. Thus what could prevent them? Appropriate, accessible, effective FAMILY PLANNING.

Family Planning saves lives! This is not just catchy tag line, but a true and vital message.

The Team from Bwindi Hospital: Dr Claire Marie Thomas, Rev Elizabeth Kagabe and Haevan Nahabwe
The Team from Bwindi Hospital: Dr Claire Marie Thomas, Rev Elizabeth Kagabe and Haevan Nahabwe

The most vulnerable of those lives is that of adolescent girls… Easily exploited, socially undervalued and neglected, fertile for conception but insufficiently mature to safely deliver and subsequently blamed and shunned after the fact.

As such there is a growing incentive amongst donors and civil society in Uganda to tackle the issues of adolescent health, access to family plannning and promotion of the girl child.

The Pastoral Lead Network consists of a male and female teacher in 30 schools across the KANUNGU district and empowers them to counsel and advise children on sexual health. As part of this they deliver Sugar Daddy Awareness lessons and tackle topics such as empathic listening, child safeguarding and adolescent friendly contraception.

Teachers, school children and local leaders march through Kanungu town to celebrate the 1st Anniversary of the Pastoral Lead Network
Teachers, school children and local leaders march through Kanungu town to celebrate the 1st Anniversary of the Pastoral Lead Network

Today the USHAPE Pastoral Lead Network celebrated it’s 1st Anniversary by bringing teachers, politicians, religious leaders and healthworkers together to discuss the health and social issues affecting the adolescents of Uganda, including HIV and teenage pregnancy.

The event was Coordinated by sAm Nightingale and her colleagues on the PLN Committee. Speakers included the District Health Officer Dr Simon Subede, Dr Godfrey of Kihihi Helath Centre, Dr Joshua of Kambuga Hospital and the team from Bwindi Community Hospital: Chaplain Rev. Elizabeth Kagabe, Community Health Nurse Haven Nahabwe, and volunteer Medical Officer Dr Claire Thomas.

Kanungu District Officer Dr Stephen Sebudde delivers the keynote address
Kanungu District Officer Dr Stephen Sebudde delivers the keynote address

Speakers challenged the audience to confront reality and look closely at the needs of adolescents. Participants were invited to go forth and tackle the cultural and social norms that support the exploitation and abuse of young girls and glorify the promiscuity of men.

 

 

The message of the day, as one participant put it:

“Sexuality is here to stay. We need to confront it and address it with these young people to keep them safe… The current reality is unthinkable, unbelievable and unacceptable”

Find out more about the Pastoral Lead Network on Sam Nightingale’s (USHAPE PLN Coordinator) blog: https://sampeteuganda.wordpress.com/

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