Civil society organizations have chosen to use the upcoming Fathers Day June 21, to rally fathers and men in general to champion the duo causes of ending teenage pregnancies and maternal mortality.
The CSOs led by The Remnant Generation has organized a run with the aim of fundraising over UGX150 million to bring down maternal mortality rates for teenage mothers.
Annabelle Nakabiri, the Executive Director, The Remnant Generation says that teenage pregnancy is a major contributor to maternal deaths in Uganda that must be addressed through availing safe motherhood spaces.
According to the Ministry of Health 25% of Ugandan teenagers become pregnant by the age of 19 yet many of whom lack access to adequate reproductive health care.
Speaking ahead of the Day of the African Child (June 16 and Father’s Day June 21 celebrations), Nakabiri noted that teenage mothers experience social-economic challenges and social stigma which denies them access to safe motherhood services and exposes them to the risk of maternal deaths
“Ensuring that young mothers receive quality maternal care could reduce some of the early childbearing effects. However pregnant teenage girls usually experience social stigma for healthcare providers and face other social economic challenges including distance to medical facilities, cultural practices and finances that limit their access to proper lifesaving ante and postnatal care,” said Nakabiri.
She explained that through the Father’s Day Run scheduled for Sunday June 19, the organization is seeking to partner with 8 health centers to avail safe motherhood services to 1000 teenage mothers in order to avert the risks of maternal mortality especially in the rural areas.
“With the increased number of teenage pregnancies following the Covid19 period, given the effects of the extended school shutdown that heightened girls vulnerability to sexual abuse, we believe that the need is even greater now and we would like to extend our reach by setting up eight (8) more safe motherhood spaces in 4 districts including Luuka, Lyantonde, Kasanda and the slum areas of Kampala”-Nakabiri revealed
In the past the organization has reached out to 320 teenage mothers in a similar arrangement where the girls are provided with mama kits, the health centers are provided with essential equipment’s like ultras scan and also training health service providers on child protection and safeguarding in order to efficiently handle these vulnerable girls
Stressing the significance of fathers’ involvement in the lives of their youngsters, Timothy Opobo, the Executive Director AfriChild centre says that the increase in in teenage pregnancies, child prostitution among other harmful practices that can be attributed to the absence of fathers in homes.
“We must see our roles beyond just providing school fees and food and get more involved as male parents and as caregivers. Our children need us to be present, provide guidance and show them what real unconditional love is so they avoid falling for traps laid for them by their peers and other ill meaning individuals,” said Opobo.
Calling on men to play their expected roles, Isaac Mukisa the founder of the Father’s Arise said fathers and the general public have an opportunity through the fathers’ Day run to contribute 10 thousand shillings or more towards safe motherhood services for the vulnerable teenage mothers.
“As a father in my house, I know I have children and I take care of them as a father but when I walk out of my door steps there are young men , there girls out there that are calling out for fatherhood. So we are calling out men to come and take-up positions of responsibility by being part of a solution of the problems they are seeing in the communities where they come from , so that is where we get involved in the fathers’ day run working with Remnant Generation towards making sure that we get safe motherhood spaces,” said Mukisa.
The Fathers’ Day Run will start at 7am at Stallion Hotel Natete and will go through the areas of Natete, Busega and Lungujja for 21 kilometers or more. Nakabiri as one of the organizers says the fathers’ day run is encouraging men to run towards their responsibilities instead of running away from their responsibility has left women and young girls to be single mothers thus the continuation of the cycle of sexual abuse and teenage pregnancy in Uganda.