Kasese, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | There is an improved uptake of family planning services in Kasese district following the easing of the nationwide lockdown. At the end of July this year, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni eased the second nationwide lockdown he announced on June 18th, 2021, to contain the second wave of COVID-19, which saw a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The easing of the lockdown which also saw the resumption of public transport has seen health facilities in Kasese register overwhelming numbers of clients especially women and young girls seeking family planning services.
Nancy Biira, an enrolled midwife at Kinyamaseke health center III in Kinyamaseke town council told URN in an interview that the facility registered 400 clients who came for family planning services in September alone, up from between 300-350 clients they registered in previous months.
She says the facility has also registered an increased number of teenagers especially girls between 17 and 19 years seeking the services.
She attributes the increasing uptake of the service to the resumption of public transport, which has made it easy for people to reach the facility on time, the support from partners like Reproductive Health Uganda and awareness campaigns by the village health teams-VHTs.
Biira says previously, the VHT teams were unable to move in addition to the suspension of their outreach programs due to COVID-19 restrictions. Evelyne, an enrolled midwife at Kanamba HC III in Karusandara sub county says that there is a slight increase in uptake of family planning at the health centre since September compared to the last one and a half years.
For example, she says the facility recorded 139 clients who came for family planning services in September compared to less than 100 that were being registered in the previous months of the lockdown.
She however decries the low involvement of men in family planning matters. Dr. Kathembo Joyfred Kayiri, the in charge of Rukoki HC IV says that access to health services was disrupted during the lockdown but currently, there is a significant uptake at his unit as people can easily access the facility.
The numbers have also increased at Muhokya health centre III in Muhokya sub county, with the facility records showing 193 clients turned in September for family planning services from less than 80 that were being recorded before August.
Juliet Kabugo, a midwife at the facility says that a number of people were trapped from home due to the absence of public transport especially boda boda services. She adds that students have also taken on family planning services and these could account for the rising numbers.
Kabugho also says the number of mothers delivering at the facility has more than doubled since the easing of the lockdown. Purdens Tayebwa from Reproductive Health Uganda-RHU told URN that during the lockdown, reproductive health services were affected so heavily especially in rural communities with limited access to health centres and knowledge on family planning alternatives.
She says the organization through the facility-based outreach programs is moving out to support the government facilities to quickly respond to the gaps created by the lockdown.
Robert Mutumba, the principal medical officer reproductive and child health department ministry of health, says that the country registered the lowest uptake of family planning services during the lockdown.
He says that failure to access family planning services also saw an increase in unsafe abortions even among old women trying to deal with unplanned pregnancies.