Saturday July 15 2017

Uganda to improve family planning services

L-R Health Minister Ruth Aceng, Melinda Gates

L-R Health Minister Ruth Aceng, Melinda Gates and Investment Minister Evelyn Anite during the London Family Planning summit earlier this week. Courtesy photo 

By Ibrahim A Manzil

KAMPALA.

Young parents will benefit from increased family planning services, Health Minister Ruth Aceng announced at a London Family Planning summit earlier this week.
Ms Aceng listed government strides in family planning after a similar 2012 summit where government pledged to increase funding to the sub-sector from then Shs11b to Shs18b.
“Uganda commits to innovative financing, expanding range of contraceptives, integration of
Family planning into other sectors including community development departments, Government youth programs like the Youth Livelihood Fund,” said Ms Aceng.
The Health Minister said government will use youth organizations like the National Youth Council to access “hardest to reach whereby special innovative strategies will focus on those that are not accessing services due to geographical, economic and social barriers.”
A statement from the Health Ministry announced an extra $375m contribution to global family planning over the next four years by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
At the opening plenary of the family planning summit, Co-chair of the Gates Foundation Melinda Gates said about $250m of this money will be used to fund services for teenagers.
Ms Aceng singled out the establishment of the National Population Council mandated to oversee the country’s population, reproductive health and family planning programs as one of the major strides towards family planning.
While delivering her keynote address at the summit, UK Secretary for International Development Priti Patel noted that Family planning enables women to take control of their futures, so that they can finish their education, gain employment but also to plan for their families - rather than being trapped in the cycle of grinding poverty and deprivation.
Being a conservative religious country, family planning remains a highly divisive matter, with some still speaking strongly against the same, while the largely urban elite push for increase in family planning services.
Speaking to a motion in Parliament on the commemoration of the World Population Day, Chief Opposition Whip Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda blamed government for sending conflicting messages on family planning.
In a veiled reference to Minister without Portfolio Hajj Abdu Nadduli, the Kira Municipality MP said while government talks about support of family planning, senior leaders speak for an uncontrolled population increase which they argue will contribute to a strong market for the economy.
Uganda was also represented by the State Minister of Privatization and Investment Ms Evelyn Anite, who stood in for Minister Matia Kasaija. Anite requested.
Ms Anite asked Ms Melinda to help Uganda boost reproductive health services and support the girl-child projects in the country. Ms Anite reportedly pledged government commitment to ensure that more women and girls would have access to family planning by 2020.
The Gates Foundation is working on solutions to these problems through investment in building new data systems, alongside efforts to “smoothe” funding to UNFPA to ensure a more consistent supply of contraceptives.
Ms Anite also held private meetings with donors, senior government leaders — including from a number of developing countries — activists, NGOs and businesses people. She invited them to invest in Uganda and pledged government support.

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