By Jacqueline Twemanye
On 24th June 2020, CEHURD received a letter from Mayuge Central Police Station – Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) desk, appreciating CEHURD for the support rendered to them in handling SGBV cases. This to us is confirmation that our efforts are not in vain. CEHURD has for years through it’s Community Empowerment Programme together with the Strategic Litigation Programme been engaging duty bearers and sensitizing people at the grassroots about the fight against SGBV.
CEHURD has further empowered Community Health Advocates (CHAs) at community and district level to advocate for health and human rights. They have also played a big part in providing information on Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) issues and human rights violations especially SGBV cases from the community.
“Cehurd has trained us CHAs on how we can work in communities on different cases mainly those concerning violation of human rights. We have undertaken different trainings with police officers which has created a bond between us and police, and has helped solve different case. I appreciate CEHURD for empowering us” – Mesach, CHA
According to the Uganda Police Force’s Annual Crime Report, gender-based violence cases that were reported and investigated increased by 4% (from 38,651 to 40,258 cases) between 2015 and 2016. UNHCR 2019 November Monthly Protection Update on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) indicates that 4297 SGBV incidents were managed, documented and reported between January and November 2019 in refugee settlements.
CEHURD’s drive to sensitize communities on SGBV culminates from the increasing number of these cases. The National Action Plan on Elimination of Gender Based Violence in Uganda (2016-2020) frames the issue of GBV as an urgent development priority and factor to address in achieving Uganda’s Development Goals for 2020.
“For CEHURD to be recognised and appreciated by the Mayuge Central Police Station for providing legal support to survivors of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) is a great milestone towards ensuring that SGBV survivors access justice through the Courts of Law.” -Ms Ruth Ajalo, Lawyer at CEHURD.The write is a Communications Officer, CEHURD.
The writer is a Communications Officer at Center for Health, Human Rights and Development.
My name is Mesach Makumbi, a 24-year-old from Magamaga Town Council in Mayuge District. I am a young leader in my society, as a Community Health Advocate (CHA). I was trained by the Center for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) to undertake community advocacy and guide young people to go through a better healthcare system as well as help the voiceless to be heard and get involved in emerging health issues.
As a young leader, I am concerned that some of the measures the government of Uganda has adopted to curb COVID-19 water down our efforts to advance sexual reproductive health rights (SRHR) in our communities. In a bid to curb the spread of this pandemic, the state came up with directives however, these have indirectly affected young people in accessing services to their Sexual Reproductive Health needs as follows;
1. The President’s directive suspending both private and public transport in order to prevent the spread of COVID19 has affected young people’s accessibility of SRHR services as most of them travel long distances using public transport. A case in point are the young people living with HIV who can only access their ARVs from health facilities which are not within their district of residence hence risking their lives.
2. The ban of group interactions to ensure social distancing has barely left young people with no access to information on SRHR. Not all young people especially in rural areas like Mayuge have access to radio, TV or even social media platforms to keep informed of SRHR in this era. This diminishes our efforts as CHAs andits therefore imperative that we think ofavenues that allow young people access SRHR information asthey are continuously engaging in sexual intercourse and chances of recording teenage pregnancies and related unsafe abortions are high
As a young leader I took the responsibility of visiting a health center to understand services available for young people during this time. The health workers indicated that they lacked protective wear e.g. mask, gloves to attend to the young people since they might acquire the COVID-19 from them; shortage of SRHR services arising from the government and NGO’s failure to supply due to COVID-19; very few health workers are able to reach and attend to the patients since a number of them come from very far and they cannot walk to the health facilities; Patients seeking medication for flu and cough are not treated by health workers- they developed stigma for COVID and work with a lot of fear
I call upon the government of Uganda to take these SRHR issues as a serious matter and come up with possible solutions in time because young people who are positive living are not accessing their ARVS, there is no access to SRHR information. I accordingly propose the following interventions:
a. Therefore the government should provide protective gear to health workers in order to enable the smooth running of their work
b. They should stock SRHR needs for the young people in the facility and put in place any means of transport which is ready to deliver these SRHR products to the needy ones once they fail to do so young people’s life are at high risks.
The writer is a community health advocate in Mayuge District
We are pleased to welcome Ms Grace Kenganzi to Centre for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) as our Communications Manager.
Ms Grace Kenganzi has worked in media and communications for nine years. Before she joined us, she was an editor with Monitor Publications Limited. She brings with her, experience in journalism, strategic communication, stakeholder engagement and management. Her skills fits into our work in making an impact through CEHURD’s five-year strategic plan, 2020 – 2024.