Kampala- An official in the Ministry of Education and youth have disagreed over a proposal to provide condoms to sexually-active youth in schools to address reproductive health issues among adolescents.
During a dialogue on reproductive health in Kampala at the weekend, more than 100 adolescents from youth organisations across the country proposed that schools should be equipped with condoms so that they can be dispensed to “only sexually active youth.”
They said it would also reduce teenage pregnancies and reproductive health-related issues among the youth.
Statistics from the Education ministry indicate that there are about 1.3 million students enrolled in secondary schools.
“We know that youth start having sex as early as 15 years, so we believe that they need services like condoms, which they should be able to access when they need them,” Mr Sylvester Nyombi, a youth and communications officer at Reach A Hand Uganda, an NGO, said.
“We are not saying all learners should be given condoms but only those who need them because even if they are not provided to them, they will go ahead and have sex; protected or unprotected,” he added.
However, Mr Henry Ssemakula, a senior official at the department of guidance and counselling at the Ministry of Education, rejected the proposal.
“Different government sectors have different mandates. As Ministry of Education, our limit is that we are supposed to give information on health issues. We can teach learners how a condom is used but we do not have the expertise in giving them out to their users,” Mr Ssemakula said, adding that it is the Ministry of Health mandated to do so.
He, however, said government was in the final stages of making a draft on school health policy to give guidelines on how health issues should be handled in a school environment.
Dr Solome Nampewo, a technical adviser at the Health ministry, urged youth to include the elderly when dialoguing on issues of reproductive health since they have a lot of knowledge on the subject.
She said the trend of teenage pregnancies among youth in the country was worrying, adding that one of four girls are either pregnant or have a baby before reaching the age of 18 years. She said currently, teenage pregnancies stand at 25 per cent.
“Teenage pregnancy needs to be handled using a multi-sector approach,” Dr Nampewo said.