Family planning in Uganda

Family planning is when or when not to have children, and the use of birth control and other techniques to implement such plans. Other aspects of family planning include prevention, sexual education, management of sexually transmitted infections, pre conception counseling and management and infertility management.

Poor and marginalized women, particularly women living in rural areas, face significant challenges accessing family planning services. Young women face unique barriers as they can be inhibited from seeking family planning services by stigma and negative staff attitudes.

In Uganda, more than 70% of the population lives in villages. Many rural women will try to visit antenatal health services but due to poor facilities and a lack of equipment and materials in hospitals, they end up dying during pregnancy or labour. Information itself is not available to rural women and the majority gives birth on floors since hospital beds are either not available or not enough.

People have a right to complete information, access and choice to a full range of effective contraceptives to prevent unintended pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and other STIs. Even when the information is there a rural woman interprets family planning differently. This is due to cultural believes; a man, to be called a man, has to have many children in order to get dowry.

Rural women need knowledge on how to both support pregnant women and mobilize more pregnant women to access antenatal services rather than visiting traditional birth attendants, but they cannot do this without volunteers such as village health teams who mobilize women at community level to access services.

Every minute a woman dies giving birth, and seven new babies die. A mother’s risk of dying from pregnancy related complication is about 250 times greater in a developing country than in an developed country. In developing countries, pregnancy and childbirth and their consequences are still the leading causes of death, disease and disability among women of reproductive age, and newborn deaths are 40% of all child deaths in developing countries.

“The issue of contraceptives may expose teenagers to HIV/AIDS infection. In 2010, about 1,527 girls carried out pregnancy tests and 775 of them tested [HIV] positive. A reasonable number of these pregnancies were unwanted. Parents teachers are shy to talk about sex with children and this has left many children with no option but to experiment the action themselves,” revealed Sanyu Caroline communication’s officer at Joy for Children Uganda.

She added: “The rising population in Uganda is a great worry to the government. A lot of attention must be shifted to family planning use; people should be encouraged to give birth to children they can best take care of. So teenagers should be encouraged by their parents to focus much on what they want their future to be like.

“However, contraceptives must be given to girls who are willing to return to school after giving birth because these girls have become sexually active. Children should be told that HIV/AIDS still has no cure hence the need for their protection. The world is just starting to make progress on concerted and coordinated action to improve maternal, newborn and child health.”

Essential medicines are not taxed in Uganda, but since the beginning of 2012, the Uganda Revenue Authority is now treating contraceptives as taxable.

Referring to this, Asia Russell of the Global Access Project, who is also a member of Coalition Partners on Health Services, said: “Since the family planning summit [which took place in London, UK in July] we have been seeing troubling reports regarding the newly applied 24% tax on contraceptives–based on a new interpretation of existing tax rules.

“I know coalition partners are doing important work on trying to ensure this tax is waived–including outreach to media, Ministry of Health, Members of Parliaments, Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development, civil society organisations, PACE and others. We can support those important efforts as a team so we can ensure this tax is waived as soon as possible. The minister is supposed to make a statement on the floor of parliament about the issue.”

The London summit on family planning aimed to:

  • Revitize global commitments to family planning and access to contraceptives as a cost- effective and transformational development priority.
  • Improve the access and distribution of contraceptive supplies.
  • Remove and reduce barriers to family planning

At the summit, global leaders united to provide120 million women in the world’s poorest countries with access to contraceptives by 2020.

Unfortunately the Abuja declaration, the health commitment made by the African Union in April 2001 to allocate a minimum of 15% of national budget to addressing health issues, has not come to fruition. Currently, no country has delivered on the pledge without including donor funded experience in their budget.


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    Also African women seem to have doubts on the best methods and choice for Family Planning. There are a range of methods, for women and men. But the range of methods for women are more. I have wondered whether these so many options are not confusing the majority of young, poor illiterate African women. Thanks, Sheifah.

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    Alice Mundaka 5 years

    Very true Kityo and I think we need to expoler the traditional ways of birth control and promote them
    Nonethe less it is lack of resources that make it looklike it is a solution to povery reduction. If you have money and yopu appreciate education, good feeding etc why not have and enjoy many children?

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    NGATI ZALIKA 5 years

    I appreciate the need for the government to generate more incomes to run it’s programs, but rember a growing un controlled population is a threat to the few resources available and the burden comes back to the government. Therefore, they should not tax family planning commodities to unable every woman in Uganda to access family planning services. Infact they should supply them free to private health providers. Thanks a Reproductive health specialist.

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    NGATI ZALIKA 5 years

    The government should not tax contraceptive commodities, they may need resources but at the same time increase their burden of the growing population which is already a threat to the existing reources.

    The govenment should instead provide family planning commodities to private health practioners to increase accessibility to all women.
    zalika ngati BA(SS) Sociology and Economics, currently finalising my masters degree in Population and Reproductive health MUK.

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    Tunanukye Rosette 5 years

    For sure women in the village still need more sensetization about family planning methods.
    Others take FPM to be for woen in towns and they also have bad attitude towards these methods.
    And same applies to men.
    So thats why people in villages still produce many children.
    For example men can’t use condoms,its like an abomination.
    So we still have along way to go to convince these villagers.Be blessed

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    Richard A. 5 years

    I believe family planning is a vertical approach which is not sustainable in Uganda. We should advocate for a population policy that is well funded to deliver. A sober thought out program that embraces our diverse heritage.
    We all know how adamant our government is, when it comes to tax decisions.

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    ndugwa bahairu bps year 2 muk university 4 years

    I can currently see a change in people’ attitude towards family planning and believe that with joint effort of government and the private sector we can put it high because this is beyond just a policy but it is something people have to be forced to do as other governments have done and for example john f Kennedy the American president didn’t sign the contraceptive law in 1960 but others signed and this transformed America’

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    BANNY HILDAH 3 years

    some African women still treasure the traditional ways of family planning which have a larger degree of getting pregnant and this has made it difficult for the families to reduce on the number of children they have or wish to have…..

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    kasawuli richard christopher 2 years

    In Uganda today,most women are ignorant about family planning simply because the staff take no time to health educate their clients on different family planning methods.
    Most clients who seek family planning methods think that medical personnel have to first check their blood to know which family planning method suits them.

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    Namwanga Cissy Yvone 2 years

    when was familyplanning established in uganda???