Global Day of Access to Safe and Legal Abortion: take a minute to think of the appalling statistics on abortion in Uganda

As we join the rest of the world to mark the Global Day of Access to Safe and Legal Abortion under the theme:Stepping into Our Shoes, take a minute to think of the appalling statistics on abortion in Uganda.

In Uganda, over 300,000 abortions occur annually , and the vast majority of these are unsafe. Of the 6,000 deaths annually of women due to pregnancy or childbirth , 1200 women will die from unsafe abortion, and further 85,000 women will be treated for complications of abortion.

The estimated rate of 54 abortions per 1000 women of reproductive age is far higher than the East African average of 36 abortions per 1,000. Currently approximately 40% of admissions for emergency obstetric care in Uganda are a result of unsafe abortion.

The Center for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) is dedicated to work towards achieving access to safe and legal abortion in Uganda.

Information session for Persons Living with HIV and sex workers in Buikwe district

The fishing communities of Kiyindi Landing site in Buikwe District had the opportunity to have an information session on prevention, treatment mechanisms of HIV/AIDS and TB and reduction of stigma and discrimination at the community level organised by CEHURD. The targeted groups included Persons Living with HIV, sex works, Community Health Advocates in the areas of Najja and Nyenga.

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Dr. Grace Mugabi an HIV / TB specialist at the session said that Buikwe district has a high HIV prevalence than other parts of the country and advised that individuals should test for HIV every after three months because of the widal period where the virus may not be detected in the human body.

He talked to participants about the treatment target to help end the AIDS epidemic called the 90%-90%-90%, that sets out to ensure that by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status. By 2020, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and that by 2020, 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

He further stated that to achieve the 90%, 90%,90% plan there should be no stigma against the people with HIV increased involvement of mothers should be paramount and so should of male involvement.

On the concern of stigma and discrimination of PLHIV, participants said that in their communities name calling is seen as a common practise names like “kasilimu” have been used by community members to refer to some of the PLHIVs. This they say they have become used to but agreed is wrong and something needs to be done about it.

Recommendations made by Persons Living with HIV and the sex workers included;

  • An anti-stigma and discrimination policy should be put in place to protect those with HIV from any form of unfair treatment in society.
  • HIV positive children in schools should be given an opportunity to take their ARVs at the right time.
  • Prisoners should also be given an opportunity to take their ARVs at the right time.
  • More community outreaches are needed to ensure that people are taught how to welcome those with HIV back in the community and ensure that they are supported and looked after.

At the end of the information session participants who included PLHIV, sex workers, and community health advocates who said they had acquired information about stigma and discrimination, the session also taught them to keep a close watch to their children and talk to them about HIV and lastly it gave them strength to openly talk about HIV and their statuses.

Cissy Nagita one of the beneficiaries from the information session said, ” the training has given me strength to do more outreaches to get more people in my community on board in the fight against HIV, stigma and discrimination.”

Uganda joins the rest of the world to celebrate World Contraception Day 2016

Today, Uganda joins the rest of the world to celebrate World  Contraceptive Day under the theme; ” its your life, take charge.” According to the World Contraceptive Day  Coalition, worldwide more than
41% of the 208 million pregnancies that occur each year are unplanned.  Nearly half of these unplanned pregnancies end in abortion.

An estimated 33 million unintended pregnancies are a result of  contraceptive failure or incorrect use so it is important that young people are well informed about  the different methods available.  Every
year, up to 16 million adolescent females aged 15 to 19 give birth. In this age group, pregnancy-related deaths are the leading cause of mortality for young women. Each year, contraception prevents 188 million unplanned pregnancies which results in 112 million fewer abortions, 1.1 million fewer newborn deaths, and 150,000 fewer maternal deaths.

More than half of all women of reproductive age in developing countries, approximately 867 million, want to avoid pregnancy.

World Contraceptive Day’s mission is to improve awareness of contraception and to enable young people to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health.

The 3rd National Conference on Economic Social and Cultural Rights

The Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC) of the School of Law, Makerere University together with the Centre for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), the Uganda Consortium on Corporate Accountability, (UCCA), the Human Rights Network-Uganda (HURINET-U), The Global Rights Alert (GRA) and the Ugandan Human Rights Commission (UHRC) held the 3rd National  Conference on Economic, Social and Cultural  Rights at Makerere University Main Hall, under the theme: Business and Human Rights in Uganda: Accountability Vs Social Responsibility for corporate abuse.

The two day conference aimed at initiating and contributing to public dialogue about business and human rights and enhance the need to build structures and frameworks that  promote respect and protection of human rights by businesses, as well as ensuring access to remedies in cases of abuses.

The conference brought together representatives from Government Agencies, NGOs’/CBOs, members of the academia, students, participants from the African Continent, representatives from the Diplomatic Missions, Development Partners, corporate entities, the business community, communities affected by actions of Corporations and the general public to discuss, develop structures and frameworks that can boost respect and protection of human rights by businesses.

As the conveners of the conference, CEHURD’s Executive Director Mr. Mulumba Moses gave remarks on behalf of the partnering organisations. In his remarks Mr. Mulumba said , “privatisation has taken over the role of the central government this has seen critical entities like the health sector being taken over by private entities, the private sector has taken over 50% of service provision in the health sector but how far have these gone to ensure that human rights are respected. ”

Dr. Michael Addo a member of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights,and the key note speaker said, “the topic of conference is timely because of its global significance, there is evidence of advance human rights impact by private actors from the baseline study that was disseminated during the conference.”

He acknowledged the different initiatives that are responding to business and human rights for example the policy framework to protect and respect remedy framework. “These are based on three integrated pillars, the state’s duty to protect human rights by third parties including business enterprises, the responsibility of business to protect human rights and lastly access to effective remedy to those whose rights are violated,” he said.

He called for common understanding and a sense of ownership of what stakeholders are doing in regards to business and human rights and hopes that Uganda adopts the guiding principles.

He explained, that guiding principles on business and human rights where based on the multi stakeholder approach to guide and protect business and human rights. The aim of the guiding principle he said is to provide a universal applicable guidelines that allow governments and companies to apply them in different circumstances taking in account the complexity of tools and processes at their disposal. They are not might to represent a silver bullet solution to the institutional miss alignments in the business and human rights field instead all social actors must do things differently. Considerations of the context of a particular region or country should be done when implementing the guiding principles.

Parallel sessions where held with various panellists sharing incites on issues to do with the state of corporate accountability in Uganda, public private partnerships in delivery of public services opportunity or threat to human rights, accessing health Care services in a commercialised sector to mention but a few.

An engaging parallel session on access to health in a commercialised sector was also spread headed by CEHURD. The session was graced by Prof Ben Twinomujuni, Ambassador Nathan Irumba, Mr. Denis Kibira, Dr. Peter Okwero, Doreen Nambule a representative of Uganda Medical and Dental Practioners Council, Prof John Jean Barya, victims from the community, students, the media and the general public.

In his remarks, Ambassador Irumba stated that the state must be held accountable in ensuring that citizens are able to access health care services.

Dr. Okwero said,” as a country, we need have effective systems, leadership and resources both government and the private sector do not have resources,17% of health services are financed by the government, 34% by other sources and the rest is out of pocket, financed by individuals also he advised that as a country, we to change our attitude, and look closely at taking up health insurance plans. He added, that there is a need to regulate the entire health sector and not only the private sector .

Prof Barya, citied countries like Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, whereby in Rwanda community health insurance scheme has been adopted and so, called for Uganda to copy a leaf from such best practises.

Testimonies of victims from the community suffering from the effects of the stone quarrying business where shared during the session. Ms. Maria Kyazike narrated that the community well water has been contaminated because of the stone quarrying process by the Chinese investors in her village.

The conference was insightful and was used as an opportunity to review the status of human rights in Uganda and to set the momentum for discussion on issues related to abuse of human rights by businesses and corporate bodies.

General recommendations that arose from the conference included: the need to implement the UN guiding principles of business and human right, a call for more community engagement in ensuring human rights are protected and respected,  A need for Ugandans to demand for their right from the government, a human rights impact assessment carried out mostly for in the environmental sector before any business is accepted to operate, in the health sector and a call for the regulation of the private health care service providers.

The 3rd National Conference on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

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The Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC) of the School of Law, Makerere University together with the Centre for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), the Uganda Consortium on Corporate Accountability, (UCCA), the Human Rights Network-Uganda (HURINET-U), The Global Rights Alert (GRA) and the Ugandan Human Rights Commission (UHRC) have organized the 3rd National  Conference on Economic, Social and Cultural  Rights at Makerere University Main Hall, under the theme: Business and Human Rights in Uganda: Accountability Vs Social Responsibility for corporate abuses, scheduled to take place from the 14th – 15th September at The Makerere University Main Hall from 8:00am -5:00pm .

The team of organizers hope to bring together representatives from Government Agencies, NGOs’/CBOs, members of the academia, students, participants from the African Continent, representatives from the Diplomatic Missions, Development Partners, corporate entities, the business community, communities affected by actions/omissions of Corporations and the general public to discuss and develop structures and frameworks that can boost respect and protection of human rights by businesses as well as ensuring access to remedies in cases of abuses.

The idea of an Annual Conference on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was born in 2014, at the behest of Government processes that flagged the need for constitutional reforms.

Please register for the conference here https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSetlyFXU-bUy98N62ajTCqEk2dw3zNQ0B6HRWBzsqunEFDRmg/viewform