Young People’s Statement On Strengthening Systems For Integration of Sexual Reproductive Health, HIV and Gender-Based Violence services.
We, the young people, thank the conveners of the national conference on SRHR integration held on 4th -5th February 2021 in Uganda. Special appreciation to the Ministry of Health and UNFPA who ensured meaningful youth engagement in the young people’s pre conference as part of pre-events for this main conference. To the SRHR Alliance Uganda, Public Health Ambassadors Uganda and fellow young people who were present yesterday. The pre-conference was for us – and we led it, and shared our experiences, ideas, aspirations in relation to integration of SRHR. As a result, we have this statement today and appreciate this opportunity given to us to share our messages.
We, the young people, believe that we are actors in realisation of our potential and destiny; and as such our voices should count. Integration of SRHR and ensuring Universal Health Coverage and Care is of importance to us the young people – and should be prioritised nationally. Without priotisation, adolescents and young people will continue experiencing barriers to access of integrated SRHR services due to stigma and discrimination, commodity stock outs and negative attitude from service providers. Yesterday, we shared lived experiences from our perspective on SRHR integration and also gained insights on SRHR/GBV/HIV approaches in Uganda.
We appreciate the efforts undertaken to create an enabling policy environment and service delivery for adolescents and young people. Initiatives such as youth corners and safe spaces in the communities and schools, provision of youth friendly services, information and awareness campaigns, integrated community outreaches, justice system for SGBV survivors among others have benefited us. Despite these efforts and initiatives, there is more that needs to be done to ensure that integration is a reality for every young person in Uganda regardless of who they are, where they might be and their circumstances .
We, the young people, are committed to being part of ensuring integrated services that are responsive to the unique needs of young people – and we want to be part of the opportunities and actions towards ensuring sustainable access to integrated SRHR for all adolescents and young people. We therefore recommend the following;
- Advance integrated health services that are delivered by trained health workers and in a youth-friendly manner that is inclusive, non-judgmental and responds to the diverse needs of young people, including young people living with HIV, special needs, young people in humanitarian settings. Focus on mental health issues among young people must be strengthened.
- Ensure meaningful engagement of young people at all levels in decision making so that we are empowered to make informed choices regarding our SRHR and play a vital role in determining our destiny and making meaningful contributions within their expertise. Invest in growth of young people and meaningful adult partnership. We are a resource and we want you not to just look at us as beneficiaries and receivers of services.
- Increase financing for integrated SRHR services for young people to ensure sustainable access. This should address the needs of vulnerable and marginalised adolescents and young people as well key issues like commodity stock outs.
- Invest in evidence and research specific to adolescents and young people and increase opportunities for experience sharing and learning.
- Prioritise innovative approaches for delivery of services and reaching young people as we are diverse with diverse needs. Young people both in and out of school need to be reached with accurate and age appropriate sexuality education information and this requires different approaches. Integrated outreaches are proving to be great though there is need to scale up and address the issue of how in school young people can also benefit.
- Strengthen coordination from national to district levels with all structures including young people. WE recognise efforts like Adolescent and School Health Technical Working Group and District Integrated Committees on Adolescent Health (DICAH) though this structures need to be rolled out nationally and supported to fully function. In addition, we ask for young people representation on Health Management Committees and Village Health Teams
- Address Social cultural norms like child marriage, FGM that negatively impact young people’s health and wellbeing especially SRHR and work with communities, religious and cultural institutions to create an environment that enables young people to live a healthy life.
As young people, we believe that Integrating SRHR, GBV and HIV is a fulfilment of the SRH rights of young people which is central in development and will enable Uganda to achieve ICPD+25 commitments and SDGs especially 3 and 5. It will increase uptake of services for all young people including the marginalised ensuring that No young people is left behind.