The Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) Alliance hosted advocates and practitioners in different fields this morning to assess the impact of their programs and how to go about service delivery in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has gotten tougher for Uganda, with the country now under lockdown and dealing with what has been termed the second wave of the spread of the coronavirus.
Ministry of Health’s Dr. Dinah Nakiganda headlined the day’s speakers, delivering the keynote address under the theme “Continuity of access to essential SRHR Information Services Amidst COVID-19.” The other speakers were Dr. Edith Nakku-Joloba from the Makerere University’s School Of Public Health, WaSH Project’s Kalinaki Rithwan, Annet Kyarimpa from Reproductive Health Uganda, UNYPA’s Nuwamanya Hillary, and Rose Wakikona, a human rights advocate with Center for Human Rights and Development.
In her introductory remarks, Dr. Nakiganda Dinah reiterated the need to expand the program to reach more school-going children – as they are the primary target audience. She said that the second lockdown had had ripple effects in the delivery of SRHR services. Transportation, both services and personnel, has been greatly hindered, inadvertently affecting access to SRHR services.
We are having many cases of poor mental health issues due to isolation and separation anxiety. People are dealing with these issues differently, with some adopting poor dieting. This has led to overeating, obesity which comes with its own complications.Dr Dinah Nakiganda
She called to integrate basic information on pregnancy prevention and adolescent health in the risk COVID-19 information packages.
Dr. Edith Nakku-Joloba noted that the second wave of the virus has come with more death and grief. Still, we need to take the lessons learned from the first wave to empower young people’s coping mechanisms and empower them to find ways to look after their own mental health is important at this moment in time.
With sanitation at the helm of fighting the spread of the virus, WaSHFirst Program’s Kalinaki Rithwan called for localized interventions to ensure basic sanitation and cleanliness. In addition, Rithwan called for increased awareness of the benefits of washing hands and coordination meetings to assess the facilities and make sure they are up to standard.
Speaking directly on SRHR service delivery, Ms. Annet Kyarimpa drew up a simple plan to help understand how services and information should be shared, identify who the message is for, where they are found, what services, and how the message services shall be delivered, and by whom.
Advocate Rose Wakikona from CEHURD reiterated the need to be vigilant and provide accessible structures to which young girls can run for refuge in a time when exploitation is increasing as people scramble for food and shelter.