Civil Society Organizations advocating for health rights of vulnerable groups have called on government to establish functional and well equipped youth health centers to provide teenage friendly services.

The call was made during a function to commemorate Safe Motherhood Day organized by the Uganda National Health Users’/Consumers’ Organization (UNHCO) in Makerere Kikoni, a Kampala suburb recently.

UNHCO Project officer, Mental Health Project, Sylveria Alwoch, on behalf of about 25 CSOs under the Voices for Health Rights (VHR) coalition said that only 7% of the health facilities in Uganda offer youth/adolescent services, something which is unacceptable.

The CSOs urged the government to provide functional and well equipped youth health centers so as to improve adolescent health.

The CSOs in a statement said that according to them, there is little to celebrate “since health crises facing teenagers range from preventable maternal mortality, lack of adequate information and lack of adequate access to reproductive and sexual health services.”

The day was celebrated under the theme “Teenage pregnancy-an obstacle to safe motherhood. Let us stop it now.” In Uganda, 135 out of every 1,000 female adolescents aged 15 to 19 years give birth at such a tender age, according to the Ministry of Health.

They further asked the Government to sensitise midwives and nurses on handling health needs for teenagers.

The CSOs urged the government to provide accurate sexual and reproductive health information to communities and schools in addition to producing good quality condoms and making them available to the youth.

“Government should have a budget for condom procurement, distribution and quality assurance at national and district levels,” Alwoch said.

CSOs under VHR include UNHCO, Action Group for Health Human Rights and HIV/AIDS (AGHA) Uganda, Reproductive Health Uganda, Health Action Group, Joyce Fertility and Mental Health Uganda.

AGHA Executive Director, Dennis Odwe called for sex education in schools so as to help young people have control over their sexuality. He also said that girls who get pregnant while schooling should be allowed to continue school after giving birth.

Activities for the day included blood donation, HIV teasting, Antenatal services and cervical cancer screening.

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