Community Dialogues Pace Up Access To Family Planning In Uganda

Dr. Betty Isiko demostrates how vasectomy is done at Petta health Centre III

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By Lydia Alyecho

Peer educators and Village Health Teams (VHTs) are breaking barriers to access family planning services in the Tororo, Busia, and Butaleja districts.

They move into the communities, inform the locals about child spacing and available family planning options, and also encourage girls and women of reproductive age to check for breast and cervical cancer at the nearest public health facility or the Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU) clinic in Tororo district.

Hellen Nyaketcho, a resident of Mudakori village, has visited 113 homes with the mission of sensitizing people with large families of six to 20 members or more to use family planning methods.

Dr Simon Lugoloobi conducts a dialogue in Nampologoma parish Butaleja district

Moving from door to door in her sub-county of Mudakori in Tororo municipality, talked to men and women to adopt permanent family planning methods.

After acquiring community sensitization skills about the benefits of family planning, I have been empowered to tell people of all ages about giving birth to planned children who are manageable, Nyaketcho said.

Together with cultural, political, and religious leaders, the burden of bearing many unplanned children is shared among community members.

Ofwono Stanislas Toto, LCIII Chairperson for Osukuru Sub County, says the child burden is high in his area and calls for amicable solutions to rescue the situation.

“We have a heavy child burden in Osukuru and this is the time to take action. The locals have to learn and choose to produce manageable children, “Ofwono said.

In Uganda, men and women of various ages are embracing long-term family planning methods.

Florence Akello, a trained peer educator by RHU, believes that the young men and women who are embracing the use of various family planning services have their livelihoods improved by having more time to do productive work and also look after the children they have in the best way.

“They are using implants, condoms, and pills to control and space childbirths. Several elderly men and women have also chosen to have their tubes cut, “Akello said.

In the Busia district, Benedict Okamari, Chairperson of Busitema sub-county, calls on community members to become ambassadors of the messages about family planning they receive and embrace, to tell other people about its benefits.

“Despite many myths about family planning, people should tell the rest about the good things family planning brings along,” Okamari said.

But the local communities in Butaleja district have taken on the mantle of having family planning sessions within their communities. A typical setting brings together between 10 to fifteen homestead heads to discuss issues of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), breast and cervical cancer, planned parenthood, and how to space their children using family planning.

The community dialogues began in April 2021 under the Breaking Barriers to Access family planning project II (BBA II), implemented by Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU). The RHU-BBA II project is funded by the Erick E. and Edith H. Bergstrom Foundation.

Within a year, thousands of people in the three districts of Tororo, Busia, and Butaleja had adopted long-term and permanent family planning methods.

“4927 opted to use the Jadelle for five years, 9821 Implanon, and 885 had their intrauterine devices inserted. The permanent method of bi-tubal litigation attracted 291 women, and 15 men have embraced vasectomy, “Dr. Isiko said.” This is by and large a success in this region, where access to family planning is gradually gaining traction.”

Dr. Simon Lugoloobi, RHU Manager, Technical Services, says that permanent methods like vasectomy and bi-tubal litigation should be taken on like other family planning methods because they are medically safe and are carried out on people who think they no longer need children.

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