The Junction Pakwach on 27th and on 28th July 2022 carried out a health campaign to address the increasing teenage pregnancy and school dropout in Pakwach district, one of the post Covid 19 health crisis the country is grappling. The campaign marked the first activity in the strategic plan for Junction 2022-2026 tenure.
Research by MoH, Plan International, showed rapidly increasing teenage pregnancy in Northen Uganda, particularly Pakwach district that hit 7,760 in one year between May 2021 and May 2022 (Health Journalist, Network Uganda). This would result into other health burdens such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, high catastrophic expenditures by the government, and ultimately reduced life expectancy.
Not only would this problem affect health but the life and career of the young girls. The JP prior to this mini project investigated that many school drop outs were loitering and vending on the street and bus parks in Pakwach mainly selling salted fish (pedo) and fried fish (Onang Nang) for survival.
The JP was able to set an interview with X, a 14years old who dropped out in primary 6. She narrated how she became a fish trader. Her main problem was lack of funds to buy pads and school materials. She got into unprotected sexual relationship with a boyfriend (boda boda cyclist) who provided for her needs while in school. But later the relationship would end after she conceived. Knowing that she could not go back to school pregnant, she started to trade fish at the bus terminals.
Aware about the magnitude of the problem, the JP sampled 10 primary schools within the district and purposely selected Pakech and Pajobi primary for this pilot project. The choice of the two schools was based on their proximity to the main town, Pakwach, where the children are more exposed to social activities such as night clubs and movies, staged shows and performances, and eventually to the perpatuators of teenage pregnancy. These are evidently some of the immediate factors that lead adolescent girls to engage in premature and unprotected sex.
The JP mobilized funds internally, and launched an online and physical fundraising to facilitate this project. The CBO was able to purchase and donate reusable sanitary pads to over 700 learners in the two schools, and mobilized international volunteer doctors from Topaz-Brit Olam, an Israeli aided organization operating in Central Uganda to teach menstrual health and hygiene, including awareness about HIV/AIDs and sexuality in the selected schools.
The JP is now developing M&E tool to follow up the success of the project and the impact in the community.
Story compiled by: OTIM MOSES
P.R.O; The Junction Pakwach.