KAMPALA – The Government of Uganda has applauded the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for their continued support on improving Sexual Reproductive Health and Gender-Based Violence programming in the country.
Minister of Primary Health Care, Margaret Muhanga, while receiving Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and reproductive health equipment to support the COVID-19 response worth $542,326 (UGX 1.92 Billion) donated by UNFPA at the Ministry of Health on Thursday morning, said that UNFPA’s regular support has gone a long way in building resilience in the health system which she says is currently prone to being overwhelmed by the repeated surges in patients that need hospitalisation.
The support from the embassies of Denmark, Japan and the Netherlands, comprised of surgical masks, respirators, examination gloves, surgical gloves liquid soap, hand sanitizer and community face masks.
This PPE, according to Mr. Alain Sibenaler, UNFPA, country representative will be distributed to 43 districts across Uganda.
“Working together to address the systemic and logistical challenges posed by COVID 19 pandemic is the only sure way to win this battle,” said the minister.
“At the beginning of the year in January, UNFPA delivered PPE items 2.4 Billion shillings. Eight months later, you are have availed more support for reproductive health commodities (worth UGX 2.25 Billion) in addition to the continuous support to ensure continuity of essential services including Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) services,” minister lauded UNFPA.
Ms Muhanga said that, indeed, COVID 19 response structures (Taskforce) at the National and district level will be greatly encouraged by this generous gesture.
“Our frontline health workers will be happier to use the Equipment and commodities with an assurance that they are not alone in this fight.”
The minister added, “Our clients especially the Mothers and other vulnerable groups, will be happier knowing they can access Sexual Reproductive Services during the pandemic. And lastly, the community will be happier, knowing Government and her partners is working tirelessly to provide all the necessary resources for health.”
Mr. Sibenaler revealed that they are determined that COVD-19 will not stand in the way of their commitment to keeping critical health services, including sexual and reproductive health and rights as the world deals with the aftermath of COVID-19.
He appreciated the government for its role exhibited in the fight against the deadly virus.
“From the onset of the pandemic the Ministry of Health has led with determination and provided very clear guidance to prevent COVID-19 and to manage it where it happens. And, throughout the evolution of the pandemic, your ministry has remained firm in its commitment to ensure continuity of essential healthcare services including sexual and reproductive health services,” he said.
Mr. Sibenaler said that UNFPA are cognizant of the unique challenges that this pandemic presents to the healthcare system at the moment.
With support from the Netherlands Embassy, Mr. Sibenaler said that UNFPA has procured and will distribute reproductive health equipment worth USD 137,250 (about Shs485,000,000) to selected health facilities in all the districts in West Nile sub-region and Agago, Amuru and Lamwo in Acholi sub-region.
The reproductive health equipment include; childbirth simulator, examination lights, cuscos vaginal speculum, gynaecological examination simulator among other equipment.
“It is our hope that all this equipment will go a long way in helping to safeguard the health and lives of health workers, and to support them to provide life-saving care to women and girls and to young people.”
Speaking on behalf of the Netherlands, Denmark and Japanese Embassies, Ms Ruth Van Zorge, the first Secretary SRH/GBV Embassy of Netherlands has also acknowledged the effort the Government of Uganda put to contain the spread of and for the management of COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 has an unequal, compounding and devastating impact on the already most marginalized groups and we are all aware of the specific consequences for women and girls which we experience in Uganda; such as the increased number of child marriages, teenage pregnancies, unsafe abortions, maternal death and cases of gender-based violence among others,” she said.
Ms Zorge said that “it is devastating to see how Uganda’s progress of the past decade, that has been achieved by putting our actions and resources together, is stagnating Uganda’s progress towards ensuring health and well-being for all, as laid down in sustainable development Goal 3.”
According to her, investing in sexual and reproductive health should remain a priority to avoid a rise in maternal and newborn mortality, increased unmet need for contraception, and an increased number of unsafe abortions and sexually transmitted infections
She advised for the continued sector response to focus on both short-term remedies to ensure continued access to services, and long-term health systems strengthening towards a more resilient health system.