Family planning services in Uganda have traditionally targeted women before, starting from counselling, uptake and continuity. With time, there has been a growing recognition that reproductive health is a joint responsibility of both men and women given that men have a significant influence on a couple’s contraceptive use.
Despite the high fertility rate of 5.4 children per woman, and unmet need for family planning of 33% in Uganda, male involvement in family planning is low in Uganda as men are often regarded unsupportive of their partners.
To scale up male involvement, I had a conversation with ACODEV communication officer, Doreen Kyampeire said; as an organization, we have added male VHTs to act as leaders and role models in their communities as they promote uptake of family planning.
The myth has however been demystified ever since the initiation of the Family planning project by many organisations like Reach A Hand Uganda, UYAFH including ACODEV. Most of these organizations have males as family planning champions in their communities. They have trained them and are responsible for creating awareness and demand for family planning in their communities, the champions also provide referrals
There are deaths that have been brought to zero. Consequently, teenage pregnancy has also reduced significantly and more people are having children they are able to take care of. The most up taken method of family planning is implant on as most women prefer to have a long term method of family planning – Doreen Kyampeire added during our interaction on family planning
“Family planning causes cervical cancer” is one of the commonest phrases most advocates encounter in the communities as they try to spread awareness indicating a large pool of myths and misconceptions towards family planning.
The challenge of low male involvement is still holding back the use of family planning but the VHTs are working tirelessly to change their behaviours and attitudes – Doreen said
To improve outcomes of the use of family planning in communities, there is a need for regular refresher training for VHTs, community people, champions and health workers in the community to enable them to keep updated with skills and information on family planning
The issue of contraceptives stock-outs should also be closely attended to so as to ensure a constant supply of methods for people in need. Since most people in the community may not be able to reach the main health center due to immobility and lack of transport, more frequent community outreaches are needed