Issue of contraceptives to under 18s causes are stir in Gulu district
Parents in Bungatira subcounty of Gulu district are disgruntled over the fact their local health facility, Coope Health Centre, is providing contraceptives to girls under the age of 18. “These people bring some organisations from town and they give implants to children who are 13, 15 years,” Amos Kinyera, a parent in the area reported to NewsHapa. He said that community members have put the facility in-charge to task over the matter. The in-charge has told the parents that it is the girls’ right to take the health service if they want it. Kinyera explains that the parents on the other hand fear that contraceptives will instead encourage the girls to be sexually active, a behaviour that will distract them from school and eventually lead to their dropping out.
This disconnect between parental perspectives and the official approach to family planning for school going children is likely to spread way further than Bungatira or Gulu itself. In September 2013, the Uganda government announced plans to make contraceptives available at school going children aged 14 to 18. At the time, Sarah Opendi, the state minister for health, said that the government planned to set up youth friendly corners at schools and hospitals and the corners would provide condoms and pills on top of counselling. The government move was justified as intended to reduce teenage pregnancies (which often are high risk to the mother). According to the Uganda Demographics Health Survey 2011, 57% of Ugandan women have their first sexual encounter before the age of 18.