UNHCO held a press conference on 10th August 2010 at the Secretariat to highlight the challenges in accessing reproductive health supplies and put forward suggestions to improve the situation. Below is an extract of the press statement.
- Despite the good and well intentioned policies and guidelines, political commitment and support for achieving set goals of the several policies cited earlier have been weak. Inadequate translation of national policy and sub-sector strategy into concrete actions plans undermines attempts to improve commodity availability and security.
- Current use of contraceptives is very low at about 24%: Most common reason for not using contraceptive methods cited is fear of side effects. Furthermore the services availed do not attract young people who are a big proportion of potential users of the commodities.
- Knowledge of contraceptive methods is generally good nationwide but quite limited in some areas e.g. northern Uganda and Karamoja regions which therefore have a correspondingly lower use.
- Stock outs of contraceptives remain a problem. This results in expensive emergency procurement by donors. Some stock outs are attributable to funding shortages, some to NDA regulatory issues and some because of forecasting difficulties.
- Challenges to the use of these FP commodities arise from the poor implementation of the policies, weaknesses in the financing, forecasting procurement and distribution systems.
- The private sector has also not been fully embraced as a partner to government in the delivery of Family Planning services including commodities and supplies.
- Coordination remains a challenge, different entities are responsible for distributing commodities as a result the commodities are not effectively utilized as condoms are largely perceived to be focusing on HIV prevention rather than reproductive health.
WHAT CIVIL SOCIETY DEMANDS
- Political will and Commitment at national level to really impact on RH is questionable; there needs to be more advocacy and greater mobilisation of resources, more accountability for performance, and stronger messages going to the districts and country at large to ensure that RH, particularly family planning and maternal health are tackled properly. The discrepancies in reproductive health and FP commodity supply and utilisation cannot be tackled on its own but has to be addressed within a context of greater commitment to RH as a whole. We want see increase in the reproductive health budget, especially commodities.
- Government should now take responsibility to provide FREE reproductive health services including supplies, consultation, counselling, appropriate human resources and equipment. FREE reproductive health services should also be given to underserved communities e.g. (Northern and Karamoja regions, PWD, commercial sex workers e.t.c and embrace empowerment to make choices and utilisation.
- Family planning should be emphasised as a contributor to the reduction/ eradication of individual/household poverty.
- Full involvement of the private sector. It should be supported to provide free services