Adolescents should be given contraceptives- Health Experts

Adolescents should be given contraceptives- Health Experts

Reproductive health experts have asked government to provide contraceptives to adolescents to stop unsafe abortions. The revelation was made during the presentation of a national research report on Induced Abortion and Post Abortion Care Among Adolescents in Uganda at Hotel Africana on Wednesday. The study, conducted by researchers at the U.S.-based Guttmacher Institute and Uganda’s Makerere University shows that 45 percent of adolescents between the ages of 15-19 need of contraceptives compared to 30 percent of married ones.

Dr. Charles Kiggundu stresses a point during the conference

Dr Charles Kiggundu, a Gynecologist at Mulago hospital says adolescents should be given contraceptives since girls as young as 15 are getting pregnant. He urged government to include the provision of contraceptives in the Comprehensive Sexuality Education Policy.

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The current reproductive health policy at the ministry of health states that family planning methods like oral contraceptives should only be given to persons that are 18 years and above.

Dr Justine Bukenya, a lecturer at Makerere University School of Public Health says that family planning services should be given to adolescents because many are sexually active.

Dr. Justine Bukenya addressing participants at the conference

Dr Dinah Nakiganda, Assistant Commissioner Reproductive Health, Ministry of Health says that they have worked towards increasing contraceptive use in the country. “We are working towards making sure that all Ugandans who need contraceptives can easily access them when they need to.”

According to a research by U.S based Guttmacher Institute and Makerere University, at least 57,000 abortions took place among Ugandan adolescents in 2013. The researchers also found that adolescents seeking post abortion care for complications resulting from an unsafe abortion or miscarriage did not face greater disadvantages in their abortion care experiences, compared with women older than 20. However, among those seeking post abortion care, unmarried women, including unmarried adolescents, were more likely than married women to experience severe complications.

Elizabeth Sally, a senior research scientist at Guttmacher institute presents findings about abortion among adolescents in Uganda

Although Ugandan law allows abortion to save a woman’s life and national guidelines permit abortion under additional circumstances—including in cases of fetal anomaly, rape and incest, and if the woman is HIV-positive, safe and legal abortion is difficult to obtain. As a result, many women resort to unsafe abortion, which accounts for more than 10% of all maternal deaths in Uganda. An estimated 314,300 abortions occurred in Uganda in 2013 among all age-groups, and more than 93,000 women were hospitalized for complications from unsafe abortion.

“These findings challenge the perception that adolescents as a group fare worse than older populations when it comes to abortion-related care,” says Elizabeth Sully, senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute and the study’s lead author. “Still, sexual and reproductive health services tailored to adolescents’ unique needs remain vital.”

Suzan Baluka making her submissions

As of 2013, the adolescent abortion rate was lower than that among all women of reproductive age (28 per 1,000 women aged 15–19 vs. 39 per 1,000 women aged 15–49). Among women who were recently sexually active, however, adolescents had the highest abortion rate (76 vs. 56, respectively). Adolescents are less likely to be sexually active than older women, but they often face more barriers to obtaining high-quality contraceptive services.

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