Tumaini project gives hope for pregnant and adolescent mothers in Eastern Uganda
Reporting by Melody Kukundakwe
When Irene Beatrice Arieba was in her senior year of high school, she learned she was pregnant. Her 25-year-old boyfriend abandoned her the moment she shared the news.
The eldest of eight children, Arieba knew her condition would disgrace her family. “What will I do? How will I face my father?”
A few weeks into the pregnancy, her parents learned of their daughter’s condition as she was always sick and throwing up. Her angry and disappointed father threw her out of his house and Arieba went to live with her grandmother. Throughout her pregnancy, she did not seek any medical care because she said she had neither the money nor the means to go to a health facility.
The first time she stepped into a hospital was to give birth. She had a normal delivery and welcomed a healthy baby boy into her life.
Adolescents like Arieba face various health risks in Uganda, including an unmet need for contraception and early and unintended pregnancies. According to the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) 2016, by age 19, 53.9% of Ugandan female adolescents have begun childbearing, with 45.8% having already given birth and 8.0% pregnant with their first child at the time of the survey.
While significant efforts have been made to help adolescents delay pregnancy, fewer resources are available for adolescents who are pregnant or are already mothers. A new demonstration initiative funded by Jhpiego is underway in the Tororo and Bukedea districts of Eastern Uganda to address the unique sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs of adolescents, before and after pregnancy (up to one year postpartum), and those receiving postabortion care services. Spacing and timing of a subsequent pregnancy is a key focus as well as increasing access to health services for mom and baby.
Arieba is part of this new effort to reach other young moms. She is one of 67 peer guides who have been trained by Jhpiego in basic information on sexual, reproductive and family planning services. She says her work now is to mobilize pregnant adolescents and adolescent mothers to access health services to safely plan a future pregnancy and meet the health needs of their children.
Jhpiego has provided facility-based postpartum family planning trainings for 26 health providers in two districts and distributed the equipment necessary to provide these services. Training on provision of adolescent-friendly health services reached 103 health providers and support staff.
Photos by Melody Kukundakwe and Albert Bwire
Melody Kukundakwe is a Global Health Corps Fellow, working in Jhpiego’s Uganda Office. Albert Bwire is the adolescent health project lead.