The Ministry of Health’s proposal to reduce the eligibility age for contraceptives has sparked debate among legislators. The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, expressed concerns that this move might inadvertently condone unlawful activities.
During a session, Hon. Lucy Akello (FDC, Amuru District Woman Representative) brought up a recent story in the Daily Monitor newspaper, dated October 10, 2023. The article reported that girls as young as 15 years old could access birth control pills under a new plan proposed by the Ministry of Health.
Deputy Speaker Tayebwa strongly criticized this proposal, viewing it as both illegal and a failure to protect young girls from harm. He emphasized that such a policy could be seen as endorsing defilement and urged against its consideration.
Tayebwa suggested that the government should instead focus on strengthening measures against defilement rather than introducing contraceptives, which he believed might inadvertently encourage the practice.
In response, the Minister of State for Health (Primary Health Care), Hon. Margaret Muhanga Mugisa, clarified that the Daily Monitor story had misconstrued the situation. She explained that the proposal originated from the ministry’s Director for Curative Services, Dr. Charles Olaro. Dr. Olaro had put forth the idea in response to the rising number of teenage pregnancies and related deaths.
Minister Muhanga emphasized that this was not an approved policy but rather a medical professional weighing potential options to address the issue. She cited the tragic consequences of teenage pregnancies and early marriages as driving factors behind Dr. Olaro’s proposal.
However, Hon. Lucy Akello raised concerns about the potential health implications of providing contraceptives to young girls. She questioned whether the ministry had assessed the risks and benefits, particularly with regard to HIV infections. Akello called for a comprehensive study to evaluate the impact of contraceptives on the well-being of young girls.