Whereas most people including the young, middle-aged and old find a discussion about Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) exciting, if you have been too keen, you should have noticed that SRH talk remains taboo in some Ugandan societies and African settings. Good sexual and reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being in all matters relating to the reproductive system. This implies that people can have a satisfying and safe sex life, the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so
To maintain one’s sexual and reproductive health, access to accurate information (e.g. seek, receive, and impart information related to sexuality) and a choice of safe, effective, affordable contraception options are vital. Based on the sustainable development goals (target 3.7), universal access to sexual and reproductive health services should be attained by 2030. However, SRH knowledge and service use remain limited in many low-income countries like Uganda. Another challenge faced in Uganda is the lack of will to approve of SRHR-related policies. Yet, these are vital.
Over the years, the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) has collaborated with service providers to advance SRHR for young people and women. However, these collaborations need to have an advocacy strategy as a framework specific to service providers to guide advocacy efforts and contributions to the realization of a progressive legal and policy environment for young people’s SRHR.
In acknowledgement that service providers have unique experiences working with young people to respond to SRH needs for young people and that their lived realities have the potential to persuade decision and policy makers to create a supportive legal and policy environment for young people’s SRHR, CEHURD embarked on the process of developing this advocacy strategy.
It is upon this background that we were invited to attend a 2 days residential meeting on 8th and 9th May 2023 at Speke Resort, Munyonyo. Invited were midwives, doctors, advocacy and communication personnel from various organizations and representatives from associations such as the National Midwives Association of Uganda, the Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda among others. The meeting was supported by Planned Parenthood Global.
It was such an insightful and informative meeting as I was able to learn to think beyond just service provision as a Midwife and Women’s Health Specialist. With the team, we reflected on the status of SRH service provision and discussed the importance of advocacy in strengthening access to SRH services. In our various groups, each was able to draft an advocacy strategy, advocacy goals, objectives, and interventions. Finally, as a team, we were able to discuss what success would look like and how progress would be measured. Indeed, Uganda needs a Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Advocacy Strategy.
The author is; Lilian Nuwabaine Luyima; BSc Nurse & MSN-Midwife & Women’s’ Health Specialist & Heroes in Health Award winner-Midwife of the year 2021