Check teenage pregnancies, school dropouts – MPs

Members of Parliament have called on Government to check Uganda’s population challenges of  teenage pregnancies, school drop outs and maternal mortality among others.
The concerns were raised during a plenary sitting on Thursday, 19 July 2018, in response to a statement by the State Minister of Finance Hon. David Bahati, on population related issues.
Bahati noted that HIV/AIDS prevalence rates among Ugandans had declined, and also cited improvement in reception of immunization programs countrywide.
“Uganda has registered an impressive increase in longevity of its population. Our life expectancy in Uganda has increased from 43 years in 1991 to 63 years in 2016,” said Bahati.
He added that maternal mortality had reduced from 506 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1991 to 336 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2016.  
The minister, however, noted that increased life expectancy had led to a surge in population growth saying, “… this population is an important resource that should be invested in to attain social economic transformation”.  
Omoro district Woman MP Hon. Catherine Lamwaka appealed to line ministries concerned with the challenges cited in the minister’s statement, to intervene and address the matters raised.
Hon. Agaba Abbas (NRM, Kitagwenda County) said there had been traditional and religious resistance to birth control methods used to promote family planning, which limited the check on population growth.
“Government and other agencies should emphasize the natural methods of birth control first, because they are easy to adapt,” Agaba said.
MPs were also concerned about the teenage pregnancies in the rural areas, which they attributed to school dropouts.
“I would like Government to put in place measures to ensure our children stay longer in school because research shows that school girls are less sexually reproductive,” said Hon. Benard Atiku (IND, Ayivu County).
Hon. Beatrice Rwakimari (NRM, Ntungamo) said many girls who got pregnant were seeking abortion services, which put them at risk on the heels of the illegal practice.
“There are so many signposts in this city advertising abortion services in Kampala and Uganda … the issue of high teenage pregnancies must be dealt with,” Rwakimari said.
Health Minister Hon. Jane Ruth Aceng noted that teenage pregnancy was a social issue that needed concerted efforts to curb it.
“We need to involve our cultural leaders and other sectors to address teenage pregnancies. The policy on reproductive health is available and only needs final approval by cabinet,” said Aceng.