Supreme Court to deliver Judgment on Maternal Health Rights in Uganda

The Supreme Court of the Republic of Uganda is on Friday 30th October, 2015 at 9.30a.m expected to deliver Judgment on whether maternal health rights are justifiable in Uganda.

In a case filed by the Center for health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), Mr. Inziku Valenti, and Ms. Rhoda Kukiriza against the government of Uganda, the petitioners sought remedies for non-provision of basic maternal health commodities in public health facilities in Uganda that led to death of their loved ones.

CEHURD and its co-petitioners argued that the public are affected by the non-provision of basic maternal health commodities in government health facilities, and that the imprudent and unethical behavior of health workers towards expectant mothers was unconstitutional and an abuse of poor women’s rights to access health services.

The petitioners relied on evidence that;

  1. The death of a one Sylvia Nalubowa (daughter of Ms. Rhoda Kukiriza) in Mityana hospital due to non-availability of the basic maternal health kits in the district hospital and the unethical behavior of the health workers towards her violated her constitutional right to life and health.
  2. The death of Anguko Jennifer (wife to Mr. Inziku Valente) in a regional referral hospital in Arua also due to non-provision of the basic maternal health commodities and the reluctance of the health workers towards this expectant mother leading to her death was an infringement of her rights to life and health guaranteed under the constitution of Uganda.
  3. Non provision of the basic maternal health commodities to expectant mothers (evidence gathered from community health facilities) and the failure on the part of health workers to exercise the requisite health care leads to death of children hence an infringement of their rights guaranteed under the Articles 22, 33 and 34 of the constitution.

The constitutional Court absconded from hearing the merits of the case on a preliminary objection raised by the attorney General’s Lawyer that the Court did not have the authority to handle matters of that gravity. The court was of the opinion that the issues the petitioners had put to court were of a political nature that necessitated the intervention of the Executive to allocate resources to the health sector and none of courts business to intervene.

As a matter of fact and law, CEHURD, Ms. Rhoda Kukiriza and Mr. Izinku proceeded to appeal that decision to the Supreme Court on the basis that the Constitutional Court erred in law in refusing to listen to the merits of the case. It is this decision that Court will be making Judgment on Friday 30th October, 2015 at the Supreme Court of Uganda.

The Judgment is particularly important because the Ugandan Constitution does not provide for a right to health and in addition makes no commitments or priorities for health financing for primary health care for Ugandans from a legal perspective.


Thousands turn up for the Annual Health Camp in Buikwe District 2015

By: Maragret Katasi,Communications Officer
DSC_1577With financial support from HIVOS, Open Society Initiative and SAAF who have been partnering with Center for Health Human Rights and Development(CEHURD) for a good time now, a health camp was visualised between 12th to 16th October 2015, in Buikwe District considering it has one of the highest rates of people living with HIV from a research done by CEHURD in 2014,especially due to the presence of most at risk populations staying in the landing sites of Buikwe. The Health Camp that initially targeted about 2000 people instead more than tripled this number, in the second annual health camp held this year(2015) at Najja sub county headquarter.
During the earlier planning meetings for this great event, the role of partnership was seen as key hence bringing partners like; crown beverages, on board who pledged and offered free tents, chairs and partial sponsorship of drinks for the masses who attended the health camp to get free services, other partners such as; Kawolo hospital, Ebenezer optical centre, Reproductive Health Uganda, St.Francis Hospital Mbiko, Nakasero Blood bank, Marie stopes,Kisiimba Muslim mission, Ziiwa memorial, St.Charles Lwanga among other partners were equally brought on board to provide a range of services from; HIV testing and counselling, Cervical and breast cancer treatment, dental checkups and treatment, oral health care and sensitisation talks, optical checkups and treatment, managing and testing non communicable diseases such as; diabetes, high blood pressure, family planning services andminor surgeries, sexual reproductive health sensitisations, Malaria testing, health legal aid services and free consultations, drama sensitisation, managing and testing STIs among other health related issues and conditions, free of charge.
The health camp that lasted a week, was publicised on both mainstream and social media with the trending social media harsh tag for the health camp being: #HealthCamp2015 that got over 10,000 twitter reviews. Different health consultants and specialists such as Dr.Susan Akello from Reproductive health Uganda, Dr.Kiggundu from Mulago Hospital, among others took to the microphone to educate the masses about the different health challenges and how to manage them , CEHURD provided a legal aid tent manned by Mr.Nsereko a legal and programme officer with CEHURD, to educate the masses on the legal issues and how to manage them especially health rights.
“aye banha, CEHURD Kyaakooze!(sic) directly translated as ‘My friends, what CEHURD has done for us!” exclaimed 30year old Kalembe Zaujja who came all the way from lugazi to seek support to stop her from giving birth after having 12 children, she feels has had already too many for her besides this situation being financially constraining. Ms. Zaujja’s last born is 1year old and was worried if she did not do anything about the rate at which she is reproducing, things may get out of hand as this is already a burden to her and her husband. When she heard about the health camp, she took her chance to seek help and indeed an operation was done by Dr.Doctor Susan Akello who carried out a permanent procedure known as the bilateral tubal ligation which stops women from giving birth permanently.

Zaujja like other locals from Eastern Uganda at the health camp, travelled distances and therefore woke up as early as 5:00am to trek through the dusty and cold roads leading to the venue as this was considered a once in a life time opportunity they had heard about and needed to use up.
This year’s health camp was building from last years’ health camp held in August 2014, which attracted over 5000 people in the community who received free comprehensive health services. The purpose of this health camp is to bridge the gap between service provision organisations and the work of advocacy organisations which target similar communities.

One Million Signatures to have a clear Law on arbortion

DSC_8498On Monday 28 September 2015, Center for Health Human Rights and Development(CEHURD) through the Coalition to Stop Maternal Mortality due to Unsafe Arbotion, marked the Global Day of Action on Safe and Legal Abortion.

The global trending hash tag on social media was#BustTheMyth that all messages on myths and facts on abortion were attached to while sending out to followers on social media.
A petition was read in line with the theme; Because every woman and Girl Counts and a campaign to have 1million signatures was launched. The campaign seeeks to have one million signatures which will be presented to parliament and the Speaker of Uganda Rt.Hon.Rebecca Kadaga and entire legislative council, to consider having a proper and clear law on abortion. Dr.Kiggundu and Dr.Collins were the campaign ambassadors.

Two social media campaigns in line with the theme, were launched to boost the main campaign with the hash tags; #BustTheMyth and #LetHerSpeak: Because every woman and girl counts. Everyone concerned and believes that maternal health should be given priority in our country and world at large, is encouraged to sign the petition which is also available online.

The hash tag #LetHerSpeak, will be trending for the next three months, with the major aim of educating people about the myths and facts on abortion and a video documented with true life stories about the same is available online along with the messages.

The launch of the One Million signatures campaign attracted over 55 guests,at Imperial Royale hotel who were mainly youth, health workers, bloggers,journalists and women with experience on abortion.
Please join us in this campaign for every woman and girl counts!

Tweet a myth or fact on abortion that Ugandans need to know about with the hash tag #LetHerSpeak. The petition cheque to sign on is available at CEHURD for your signature.


Reducing Abortion Stigma Amongst Secondary Schools Through Music, Dance and Drama

5On 24th July 2015, Centre for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD)in partnership with the District Education offices of Kiboga and Kyankwanzi and Our Lady Technical and Vocational institute with support from HIVOS engaged students in a competitive Music Dance and Drama Festival as a way of tackling abortion stigma.

The activity that was well organised by CEHURD’s structure of Community Health advocates attracted a total of 9 schools with four of these actively participating in plays, original composition and traditional dances. Students educated others on dangers of unsafe abortions, the need to seek and access contraceptive use, importance of using condoms and abstinence from sex among others. They cautioned fellow students and the general about secretly aborting and using local herbs that have ended up killing many of their friends.

This festival was equally an opportunity for health service providers to educate the students and the communities about the myths and misconceptions of abortion, family planning services available at the different health facilities in the two districts and health workers cautioned parents, students and fellow professionals, to ensure that sexual reproductive health services are sought and provided.

“It has come to our notice that service providers are not confidential about people’s information. This has scared girls and women away from accessing sexual and reproductive health rights services in different facilities. We appeal to women and girls here to come back to the facilities and ensure that they seek and access these services” cautioned Sr Veronica Masanja(Senior Clinical Officer, Nyamiringa Health Centre II)

The impact of the messages, that were well crafted by the students to pass on Sexual and Reproductive Health issues could be felt in the audiences. Nankinga, a lady in her late 40s acknowledged the great talent the young people portrayed during the competitions, but most importantly how well they managed to pass on the messages. “I see so many girls from this village, who sneak and go to quack midwives to abort, that use funny metallic instruments that have even rusted, girls should take these messages seriously.’ emphasised Ms.Nankinga who says she works in a retail shop in the town of Kiboga.
Hired professional judges gave judgement on who and which school best gave out the message of the day in harmony with the theme (SRH; MY CHOICE) .Katoma Secondary school emerged the best and was awarded with a plaque by Eng Musisi, the guest of Honor District.

With the overwhelming support from the locals to ensure the event was a success, a sustainability plan was idealised for the community to own up this initiative. After the event, the team from CEHURD headed by Mr. Mulumba the Executive Director, engaged the local leaders of Kiboga and Kyankwanzi in order to have a sustainable plan with them for the activities CEHURD is holding in the two districts.
The meeting highlighted expectations from both teams and streamlined the relationship and realistic support to be provided by the team from CEHURD but ownership of the projects by the communities and there leaders stood out clearly, as CEHURD emphasised that these projects need continuity and sensitisation had to continue through their support.

Margaret Katasi and Nakibuuka Noor

Media Call for Grant Application 2015


This media call for investigative story ideas seeks to set the regional SRHR agenda for discussion,to improve visibility of Sexual and Reproductive Health challenges in the East African region and to build a class of media people that can report in an informed and objective manner.
The objective of this call is to increase documentation of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and how far governments have gone in upholding their obligations to protect, fulfill and respect SRHRs in the East Africa region.
The state of maternal health in your country;
Legal and policy framework of abortion in your country;
Barriers to accessing SRH services among the youth and, strategies or initiatives to address these barriers;
Attitudes and practices (social norms) of abortion in your country.
Or any other story ideas in the area of SRHR that may have a direct or indirect bearing on the impact of unsafe abortion in any East African Country

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