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New study: 46% of Women in Uganda say they had unintended pregnancies in 2021

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Women in Uganda continue to report high levels of unintended pregnancies. Results from Phase 2 cross-sectional survey of the Performance Monitoring for Action -PMA Uganda project at Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) show that 46 percent of pregnancies in 2021 were unintended.

Of the 2,159 women of ages 15-49 from across the 141 enumeration areas (villages) in 15 sub regions of Uganda interviewed by the study team, at least 54% said their current/ recent pregnancy was intended.

The women were asked whether they were pregnant by intention of their most recent birth or current pregnancy. 33% said they wanted a pregnancy later while a total of 13% said they wanted no more children but ended up getting pregnant.

The proportion of those who had unintended pregnancy varied from the those that were in urban and rural areas. For instance, a whopping 48.5% of those who had unintended pregnancies were rural based women while 35.9% were in urban areas.

Also, results show that more than 50% of women who said they never wanted to be pregnant or wished to delay child birth were aged 35 and above. A higher proportion (more than 60%) of women who experienced unintended pregnancy in 2021 were teenagers aged between 15 and 19.

MakSPH, PMA Uganda project  Co-Principal Investigator Dr. Simon Peter Kibira
MakSPH, PMA Uganda project Co-Principal Investigator Dr. Simon Peter Kibira addressing media after the dissemination of the results at Golden Tulip Hotel in Kampala.

The enumeration areas are sampled by the Uganda Bureau of statistics (UBOS). The survey was conducted together with the Ministry of Health, supported by Jhpiego, a Johns Hopkins University Affiliate, MakSPH and the Uganda Bureau of Statistics – UBOS and the overall technical guidance from the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

At MakSPH, PMA Uganda project is led by Principal Investigator Dr. Fredrick Makumbi and Co-Principal Investigator Dr. Simon Peter Kibira. The results were released on February 15, during a stakeholder breakfast engagement meeting at Golden Tulip in Kampala.

For trends in use of contraceptives among married women, the prevalence stands at 50.2%. “It is the first time we are hitting this indicator and the modern method of family planning standing at 43%. So, we are rising though not first enough given the Covid-19 implications for the last 1-3 years. But it is amazing that we have had some adoption from the Ministry of Health and the implementing partners and the results show that at least, there is progress,” says Dr. Simon Peter Kibira, the PMA Uganda Co-Principal Investigator.

Dr. Kibira cites that among a few challenges Uganda has faced is the struggle with the quality of services provided. For instance, data shows that only 43% of women were told about the side effects of a modern contraceptive method they were using, how to cope up with them, and the availability of other alternative methods.

“This is not a good indicator and we still have a long way to go around that,” he says.    

The survey interrogated service delivery points offering Family Planning services in 255 public health facilities and 118 private facilities that included 46 hospitals, 58 Health Center 4s and 96 Health Center IIIs and 55 Health Center 2s.

There was a general drop in stock outs for family planning services. For instance, Oral contraceptive pills in public health facilities stood at 48% in 2021 down from 68% in 2020.

According to the Principal Investigator Dr. Fredrick Makumbi the study team assessed availability of family planning services largely in public health facilities because they are many and can give stable statistics.

PMA Uganda project Principal Investigator Dr. Fredrick Makumbi presenting results of the PMA family planning survey 2021
PMA Uganda project Principal Investigator Dr. Fredrick Makumbi presenting results of the PMA family planning survey 2021

“Implant stockouts were very common compared to the IUDs which had lower use. What about Oral contraceptive pills stockouts, I daresay nearly half of the facilities were stocked out either at the time of the survey or in the past three months,” Dr. Makumbi.

The reasons advanced for stock out of FP commodities in Public Service Delivery Points, a higher percentage (46%) of the facilities said they had ordered but not received shipment. At least 20% said they had ordered but not received right quantities while 9% said there was unexpected increased consumption and just 2.8% said they lacked stock due to COVID-19 disruption.

“For as long as Family Planning partners, Ministry of Health and the rest as mobilizing and creating awareness, people are coming and using the methods and particularly in this study 9% said they did not have enough pills,” Dr. Makumbi says.

In terms of education background, the study noticed a difference in women of primary and secondary levels of education in terms of contraceptive use.

“The highly educated have a significantly high proportion of use of modern planning methods implying that education is key, factor and we need to make sure that women, men and couples using family planning are educated,” says Dr. Kibira.

The Uganda Family Planning Costed Implementation Plan, 2015–2020, launched by the government in November 2014 sought to increase the modern contraceptive prevalence rate among married women to 50 percent by 2020. This target was however not met.

According to Dr. Kibira, we have not yet reached it even in 2022 currently at 47.7%. “We are still struggling a little bit and if we work on that we, shall make sure that we hit on the target of 50%, and that’s for 2020. Much as we set a conservative target, there are adaptations we have seen otherwise we wouldn’t see any usage of family planning methods during Covid-19,” he said.  

He adds that what has contributed to the high prevalence rate for contraceptives has been   the use of modern methods and therefore the adaptations by the Ministry of Health and other implementing partners worked citing that if they did not work, Uganda would have seen worse indicators.

“Regardless of the effects of Covid-19, I am glad we had good indicators. I think this Covid-19 situation could have been a speed jump because couples stayed at home hence exposed to having more sex and that would lead them to take on the modern family planning method. And sometimes you have the challenges and the same challenge propel you to better indicators,” he noted.

In each of the 141 numeration areas the research team interviewed all eligible women aged 15 and 49 years in 35 households.

“We interview and we ask them issues about sex, and if there is any form of pregnancy control method being used. If someone says condom, implants or any other method, we don’t go ahead to interrogate why they are using that method. We are actually interested in asking, if you are not using, then why are you not using,” says Dr. Kibira.  

There are various family planning methods and women / couples should be at liberty to choose with full information at the facility where you are receiving the method, for example among the pills, injectables, IUDs.

Notably Dr. Kibira asserts that implants and IUDs are long acting reversible methods and they are the most active compared to the short-term methods that are recommendable for people who want longer time delays for example space for 5 years.

He adds that; “The beauty with long term methods is that they are cheaper, effective and offer long years of protection and it should be ideal that people use what is ideal to their needs either short term and long term and it’s a choice.”

Dr. Makumbi says each development partner has a role to play in ensuring access to family planning services to Ugandans. “I think everyone of us has an opportunity to play their role, we generate evidence, we work with Ministry of Health, implementing partners, Population Council and everybody so that we can have evidence-informed decisions and that can make a significant difference and I am glad to see members of parliament who can help us support when all this information comes to parliament.”

Dr. Charles Ayume the Chair of the Committee on Health in Parliament of Uganda interacts with journalists after the release of the findings of PMA results at Golden Tulip Hotel in Kampala
Dr. Charles Ayume the Chair of the Committee on Health in Parliament of Uganda interacts with journalists after the release of the findings of PMA results at Golden Tulip Hotel in Kampala

Dr. Charles Ayume the Chair of the Committee on Health in Parliament of Uganda said they (committee) were extremely happy to engaging in a dissemination of PMA results citing that it sharpens the way they tackle issues on the floor of parliament.

“We really want a parliament that articulates issues based on evidence and very strong data. We do not only represent our constituencies, we are also dutybound to represent the views of health workers on the floor of parliament and good enough we have health workers on the committee,” said Dr. Ayume.

Adding that; “this is where data is produced. But then fortunately or unfortunately the policies are made on the floor of parliament. So if you don’t arm us well, then we do a poor job on the floor. We pledge total support.”

Health

Boy Children Report More Physical & Emotional Abuse

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Men in the intervention group during the Parenting for Responsibility (PfR) project training session.

By George Kisetedde

On 3rd August, 2022, the CHDC (Child Health and Development Centre) disseminated study findings from one of the research studies carried out at the centre. These findings were presented under the title,“The Prevention of Violence against Children and Women: Baseline and Implementation Science Results from Parenting Cluster Randomised Trial.” Moderated by Dr. Anthony Batte, a lecturer at CHDC. Study findings were presented by Joseph Kahwa, the trial manager of the Parenting for Responsibility (PfR) project, under which this study falls.

Kahwa described PfR as a community based parenting programme delivered to both male and female parents. This programme aims to improve parenting skills, prevent violence against children, and to improve spousal relationships.

Findings from the study

Findings from this study showed that parents maltreat boy children more than girl children. The boys reported more emotional and physical violence than girls. Furthermore, the boy children reported that male caregivers specifically, maltreat them more. On the other hand, the girl children reported more sexual violence from caregivers than boys. On the whole, the children reported that female caregivers emotionally and physically abused them more compared to male caregivers.

More findings, according to Kahwa, showed that 46.5% of parents in Amuru can provide their children with soap to wash, 44.5% can provide school fees, 44.4% can provide school materials, 44.2% can provide new clothes, 43.3% can buy school uniform, and 35.9% can provide a pair of shoes.

How the research is conducted

The study is divided into 16 group sessions. The first 9 sessions are single sex, that is, male caregivers and female caregivers train separately. The next 7 sessions are mixed with male and female participants combined during training.

A mixed group parenting session for both men and women.
A mixed group parenting session for both men and women.

Kahwa explained that this programme was initiated to deal with VAC (violence against children) and IPV (intimate partner violence). These two vices are closely linked and have a significant impact on how children turn out.

Kahwa added that the PfR research programme aims at addressing the four major factors that may lead to VAC/IPV. These include; poor parental bonding, harsh parenting, unequal gender socialisation and spousal relationships.Poor parental bonding refers to the absence of a healthy close connection between a parent and their child. When a parent and child are not close, the parent may lack empathy for the child and the ability to perceive and respond to their child’s needs. When this bond is weak, a parent is unable to appreciate a child’s needs and can end up being unrealistically tough, which results in harsh parenting. Unequal gender socialisation generally refers to the different expectations that parents have of their children depending on their gender-male or female. The quality of the spousal relationship between parents also affects a child’s life. These four areas are what the parenting sessions concentrate on during the training.

The PfR study employed a cluster randomised controlled trial (RCT) design. Male and female caregivers were recruited from cluster villages in the Wakiso and Amuru districts in Uganda. One child aged 10 to 14 per household was randomly selected and assessed.

The caregivers were divided into two groups; the intervention group and the control group. The intervention group underwent all the 16 sessions of the training while the control group underwent a 2 session lecture on parenting. The impact of the PfR intervention was then ascertained by comparing baseline and endline results (or the before-and-after experiences of parents). The study participants were from 54 Villages selected in both Amuru and Wakiso districts. 108 caregiver groups (54 groups per intervention)were selected. This resulted in 2328 parents recruited and 886 children.

In conclusion, Mr. Kahwa said that maltreatment is still prevalent in the population. Generally, the PfR programme was well-received by parents and it had ad good attendance from parents. The programme also registered good male engagement. The peer facilitators who were recruited also had great potential in expanding the PfR programme at community level.

This study was conducted by Dr Siu Godfrey as the Principal Investigator. Other members of the team included Carolyn Namutebi, Richard Sekiwunga, Joseph Kahwa, Dr Betty Okot, and Martha Atuhaire. They were supported by the Director from CHDC, Dr. Herbert Muyinda and the CHDC Finance & Administration team. The team from Glasgow & Oxford Universities in the UK included, Prof Daniel Wight, Dr Jamie Lachman , Francisco Calderon and Dr Qing Han. On the other side, the team from the SOS Children’s Village from Gulu and Wakiso included, Rachel Kayaga, Sindy Auma Florence and Godfrey Otto.

Contact: George Kisetedde – kisetedde@gmail.com | Edited by Agnes Namaganda – agnesvioletnamaganda@gmail.com

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Makerere Medical Journal: Golden Jubilee Edition 2022

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Cover Page of the Makerere Medical Journal Golden Jubilee Edition 2022.

It’s with great pleasure that I welcome you to the Golden Jubilee edition of this phenomenal journal. Yes, The Makerere Medical Journal marks 50 years of publication with this year’s edition and all this has been made possible by the endless efforts and contributions of the Makerere University College of Health Sciences Staff and students because without your research submissions and financial support, the journal wouldn’t have made it this far. To you reading this, thank you for contributing to the sustainability of this great project, year in year out.

Here’s a quote to ponder on as you delve into this year’s well-crafted articles and it’s by Zora Hurston (1891-1960), “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” And doesn’t that just define our purpose as researchers?!

This edition’s articles cover pertinent topics ranging from Antimicrobial Stewardship, COVID-19 interventions, Oral Health amongst others. It also features student projects, write-ups on student-led organizations and societies that are making a difference in the life of a health sciences’ student and many more interesting writings. Featured in this issue are international manuscripts from countries like Nigeria and we were also honored to work with other universities within the country and feature some of their students’ articles.

I would like to extend my most sincere gratitude to my team of editors that engaged in a rigorous peer review process to ensure that the articles published are up to standard. As the editorial team, we are quite pleased to see the number of undergraduates involved in research steadily increasing and all the efforts that have been put in by the different stakeholders to see this happen are commendable.

With that said, I hope you enjoy every second of your read!!!

LINDA ATULINDA,
MBChB IV

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF,
Research and Writers’ Club 2021-2022

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Call for Applications: HEPI Masters Support Fellowship

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Panelists L-R: Professor Elsie Kiguli-Malwadde, Professor Francis Omaswa, Professor Jehu Iputo and Professor Joel Okullo at the HEPI-ACHEST Health Professions Education Symposium, 17th June 2022, Makerere University.

Applications are invited for the Health Professional Education Partnership Initiative (HEPI-SHSSU) Masters fellowship programme support from postgraduate students of:

  • Makerere University College of Health Sciences (MakCHS)
  • Kabale University School of Medicine
  • Clarke International University
  • Faculty of Health Sciences, Busitema University

The programme will support graduates in their final year of training leading to the award of a Masters degree on any of the Master’s graduate training programs at the stated University for a maximum of 19 successful candidates.

The closing date for the receipt of applications is 30th September 2022.

Inquiries and Applications must be submitted to hepishssu@gmail.com

See attachment for more details 

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