Kabarole | RedPepper Digital – Health workers in Kabarole District have called for increased and comprehensive sex education among teenagers to avert the worrying trend of adolescent pregnancies.
Sex education is instruction on issues relating to human sexuality, including emotional relations and responsibilities, sexual activity and reproduction, age of consent, reproductive health, reproductive rights, safe sex, birth control and sexual abstinence.
Catherine Kemigabo the Kabarole District Health Educator says that the lack of sex education in the district has seen children engage in sex at an early stage with girls aged 14 to 17 most affected.
According to Kemigabo, in the 2020/2021 financial year health report, 13,500 teenage pregnancies were reported.
Kemigabo says that the immoral behaviours of the teenagers in the district especially in urban areas is due to laxity by parents and negligence of key roles by local leaders.
Prudence Tayebwa a health worker says that sex education is significant in addressing the challenges of modern-day parenting, particularly, children’s susceptibility to sexual abuse.
Tayebwa called for the formation of Youth Friendly Corners in schools with youthful nurses to counsel students and educate them on the different dangers of early sex.
She says that many children have fallen victim to sexual abuse in their early years of life because they were not empowered to fight such evils.
The health workers were speaking at the launch of a five-year health project supported by the Netherlands government aimed at improving sexual and reproductive information among the youth.
The “Right Here, Right Now” project will be implemented by Reproductive Health Uganda-RHU and other local partners across the districts of Kasese, Kabarole, Kween, Mbale and Kapchorwa.
Robert Ochaya, the program national coordinator says the reason to select the five districts was informed by the high rates of teenage pregnancies. He says several young people don’t have access to sexual and reproductive information which exposes them to unsafe sexual behaviours.
Ochaya said the program has four outcome areas that include, building the capacities of young people to voice out their health concerns, increase public support for the young people, support stakeholders to put in place youth-friendly policies and building capacities of civic societies.
Jackson Chekweko the Executive Director RHU says it is critical to empower young people to be the drivers of their own reproductive needs. He says the current youth health programs have been designed without the intervention of the young people themselves making these programs less effective.
Sexuality education has been a controversial issue in Uganda over the last few years. In 2016, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social development banned comprehensive sexuality education in schools.
The ministry’s ban came after the discovery of sexual reproductive health books in more than 100 schools that included “sexual orientation and a non-negative portrayal of masturbation.