A recent study conducted by Makerere University’s School of Public Health in Uganda has revealed that a significant number of pregnancies in the country are unintended. The study, named “Performance Monitoring for Action,” took place between September and November 2022.
According to the research findings, nearly half (46%) of pregnancies that occurred in the past five years were unplanned or unwanted. Among those most affected are adolescents, with approximately 62% of unintended pregnancies occurring in this age group, which translates to about six out of every ten adolescent girls.
Dr. Richard Mugahi, the assistant commissioner in charge of reproductive and infant health at the health ministry, attributed these poor statistics to the limited access to contraceptives among adolescents and the general population, as well as a lack of knowledge about contraception.
This revelation coincided with World Contraception Day, celebrated annually on September 26. Uganda is also observing the occasion, with its theme for this year being ‘Breaking barriers, embracing contraceptive choice for the youth.’
Dr. Mugahi expressed concern that there are still barriers preventing adolescents from accessing contraceptives, despite their sexual activity. Ugandan law currently restricts girls below the age of 18 from obtaining and using contraceptives.
He stated, “I do not think there should be a barrier to access contraceptives for people who are sexually active. Regardless of age, if they are sexually active, they should be provided with information to access contraceptives of their choice from anywhere.”
Dr. Mugahi criticized religious leaders for opposing the provision of contraceptives to sexually active teenagers and adolescents. He emphasized the importance of recognizing the sexual activity of young people and its consequences, such as unintended pregnancies and abortion-related complications.
To address this issue, the health ministry in Uganda plans to strengthen its family planning programs. Their aim is to ensure that contraceptives, information, and supplies are readily accessible to women of reproductive age (15-49).