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Korea to support $5m teenage girls’ campaign

A teacher talks to girls under the Straight Talk programme
A teacher talks to girls under the Straight Talk programme

Amidst pomp and color, a new programme geared towards prevention of teenage pregnancy and under-age marriage was launched Tuesday at Golf Course hotel in Kampala. Dubbed, Better Life for Girls (BL46), the programme funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency targets 412,012 girls aged between 10 and 19 years mainly in Northern and Eastern Uganda.

Speaking  at the event , South Korean ambassador to Uganda said they had invested $5 million expected to benefit adolescent girls who are both in and out of school in 14 districts in Karamoja and Eastern Uganda. They include Abim, Amudat, Moroto Nakapipirit, Kaabong, Butaleja, Mayuge, Iganga and Kapchorwa.

It will be implemented by both the government, Civil Society Organizations and like the Inter-religious Council of Uganda, Straight Talk Foundation and Reach a Hand Uganda to ensure that a school environment that is responsive to gender issues is created for adolescent girls and that health workers are skilled in provision of youth friendly age-appropriate social reproductive health services in addition to increased access to life skills for girls.

“Men who defile these girls should be castrated. We didn’t achieve Millennium Development Goal 5 of reducing maternal mortality partly because we failed to avert teenage pregnancies”

Sarah Opendi, State Minister for Health said the programme builds on the campaign to end teenage pregnancy that was launched in 2014. She noted however that at 24%, Uganda still ranks highest on the continent as far as teenage pregnancies are concerned because girls get sexually active at a very young age yet men who defile them at times go without being implicated.

 

 

Opendi who blamed the police for poor investigation of cases and accepting bribes said there’s a need to enact tougher regulations if Uganda is to make more strides in protecting young girls from early pregnancy and resultant complications such as fistula.

“Men who defile these girls should be castrated. We didn’t achieve Millennium Development Goal 5 of reducing maternal mortality partly because we failed to avert teenage pregnancies”, she said.

Miranda Tabifor, the Country Representative United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said the 2030 Sustainable Development agenda recognizes that investing in girls has huge returns that’s why there is increased attention to their health and wellbeing including sexuality. To her, the most effective way of delaying marriage and early pregnancy is ensuring that girls stay in school longer.

For Opendi, while encouraging adolescents to abstain would be the most ideal, the strategy should be reviewed as many are already sexuality active and they don’t use condoms. In fact, delivering a statement on the status of HIV/AIDS response on June 28, outgoing UNAIDS Country representative Dr. Musa Bungudu told journalists at media center in Kampala that 570 young people between the age of 10 and 24 years acquire HIV every week adding that adolescent girls between 17 and 19 years have tripled the number of boys of the same age in infection.

 

 

 

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