More teenagers using contraceptives, experts say

A pregnant woman. PHOTO/FILE/NET

What you need to know:

  • 350,000 Statistics: The number of teenagers who get pregnant every year, according to the Ministry of Health records.

The number of young people seeking short term contraceptives is on the rise, reproductive health experts have said.

The head of communication and policy at Marie Stopes Uganda, Ms Faith Kyateka, said the number of young people bellow the age of 20 who are sexually active and had resorted to using short term contraceptives such as condoms, pills, injections and some implants to prevent unwanted pregnancies has increased.

Ms Kyateka made the revelation during the celebration to mark the Global ‘She Decides’ Day in Kampala on February 4.  

The day is celebrated on every March 2 globally with the aim of advancing fundamental rights for girls and women such as the right to access sexual and reproductive health services. 

Ms Kyateka said young people seeking for such services at Marie Stopes, for example, increased from about 10 percent in 2019 to about 19 percent in 2021. She attributed the surge to increased awareness on youth-friendly services and sexual activities that young people engaged in, especially during the lockdown.

“The fact that they were at home for almost two years, quite a number of girls got pregnant and have not gone back to school. Some of the young people who survived the wave of teenage pregnancy are now using contraceptives to prevent teenage pregnancies,” she said. 

Ms Kyateka advised young people to seek medical guidance before using any contraception. 

“Before a client takes up any method of contraception, he or she should first go through a comprehensive counselling and guidance session conducted by a qualified health worker,” she said.

Teenage pregnancy is a health challenge that continues to affect several young people in Uganda.

The 2016 Demographic and Health Survey indicated that one in every four adolescent girls aged 15 and 19 in Uganda had begun childbearing, yet nearly half of the births to this age group were reported as unwanted, a higher proportion than in older women.

The national coordinator for She-Decides movement in Uganda, Mr Patrick Myesigye, said stigma from both the community and some healthcare providers were hindering young people from accessing sexual and reproductive health services.

Mr Mwesigye, who also doubles as the team leader for Youth and Adolescents Health Forum, said only 39 percent of sexually active girls aged 15 and 19 (253, 000 out of 648, 000) use modern contraception, leaving six in 10 girls with an unmet need for contraception.

The advocacy officer for Naguru Teenage Information and Health Centre, Mr Joshua Thembo, said boys should be part of the movement that is striving to achieve a safe space for girls.