The notion that a healthy body often breeds a healthy mind has never made much more sense than it does now. It is nothing but the truth when one argues that for a state to realize it’s citizens’ right to Education, it must make sure that their right to health is fully upheld since the two are intertwined to the extent that without one, the other faces non-realization. These rights are inherent and the state or any other stakeholders have a duty to ensure such rights are not violated.
Of course, the Government of Uganda must be credited for its efforts especially when it passed the National Sexuality Education Framework in May 2018. However, it cannot be said that this framework alone can foster the growth of a well-rounded Adolescent population.
Young people from across the country took to social media today to demand the passing of the National School Health Policy. With great sadness, allow me to bring it to your attention that the 2016 Uganda Demographic Health Survey, estimated that one in four adolescent girls aged 15-19 years was either pregnant or already had a child.
As if this is not enough, the 2016 Adolescent Health Risk Behavior Study found that 1 in 10 adolescents have ever suffered from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and estimated that 26% of the absenteeism amongst school-going girls is attributed to Menstrual-related issues as the level of accessibility to disposable sanitary towels stands at 52.1% and 1.6% for those that use reusable sanitary towels.
Given this statistical background, it is only right to state that before the government can reopen schools, it should pass the National School Health Policy as a measure to counter these issues. Perhaps you might wonder what is so special about this policy that has been on the shelf for close to 20 years and I shall take on the mantle to illustrate why these young people are rooting for it. Especially now in the middle of a pandemic.
If passed, this policy will not just ensure that students get an education, but rather a holistic one that includes youth or age-friendly information about Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). Key amongst the objectives of this policy is to promote the provision of universal equitable health interventions in order to prevent and control diseases in schools, a healthy school environment, enhance coordination in the provision of quality health interventions in schools and to promote the teaching of skill-based health education in schools.
The #NSHPNowNow campaign was launched today, the 26th day of August, 2020 in a Breakfast Meeting live on NBS TV hosted by Mr. Samson Kasumba and featuring panelists like Mr. Filbert Baguma the Spokesperson of UNATU, Dr. Dinah Nakiganda the Asst. Commissioner Adolescent & School Health at Ministry of Health and Ms. Patricia Naggita from Voices For Health as they justified the need to pass this legislation.
The campaign was launched by the Voices for Health consortium which includes Reach a Hand Uganda (RAHU), Centre for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), and Partners in Community Transformation (PICOT); in partnership with Ministry of Health.
For now, we can only hope that the state passes this policy soon.