Silence is Deadly – Time to Speak Up!

By on March 22, 2018

The average young person in Uganda has access to a lot of information, so much that one would expect that they are aware of nearly everything around them. However, rather ironically, the average young person is at the risk of living his or her life in a bubble because of the assumption that they know what direction they are taking. For a very long time, young people have solely relied on the advice of their peers and colleagues while navigating the harsh and unpredictable world of sexual reproductive health. If the advice they get is not from their equally ignorant peers, it will be from the world wide web which barely sieves anything and with throw any junk at them.

And so while we are living in a digital age of information, the young people are at a risk of misguiding each other into mistakes – some of which they may never come from. When young people are learning about sexual reproductive health, there is tendency for the older people to assume that until a certain age, the young ones are not ready for any such information. However, one can never know at what age a young person’s mind begins thinking about sex. So quite naturally, the safest and wisest thing to do would be to equip them with information so that when that time for them to be active comes, they are aware of what choices and consequences await them.

Young people need to be encouraged to talk about Sexual Reproductive Health

The 22nd of March 2018 saw the launch of a campaign dubbed “Silence Is Deadly” which as the name suggests, is an appeal to the world as a whole to increase the platforms on which young people can learn about sexual reproductive health. A friendly SRH environment helps the young people to identify solutions to their problems without feeling like they have to go to the ends of the earth and without fearing any form of judgment and ridicule.

In the not so distant past, there was the assumption that young people were only ready for sexual reproductive health lessons when they began to display certain features of habits. However, as history has proven, each person arrives at the stage of sexual awareness differently. Also, today young people are exposed to more information than ever before. As a reason, it does not make sense to keep away important and life saving information from the young people anymore. It is time for the silence to die and for some conversation to begin going around regarding SRH.

Following the launch, a community outreach in Kawempe was held to introduce the people to the Silence Is Deadly Campaign

It is very important that young people remain healthy and able because today there are many STDs that can cut a young person’s life short. Similarly, today there is more desire by young people to ‘live in the moment’ and not worry about repercussions. And so, concerted effort must be placed on the campaign of speaking up and letting the young people know everything there is to know about SRH.

The Silence Is Deadly campaign has a number of partners – which is a very good thing because it must be approached from various dimensions and with as much resource as possible. Some of the partners include Uganda Health Marketing Group (UHMG), Reach a Hand Uganda (RAHU), Coalition for Health Promotion and Social Development (HEPS) Uganda, Centre for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD), Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) and Partners in Community Transformation (PICOT); together with Ministry of Health. Together it is expected that there will be conversation around more access to SRH services and information for young people and it is expected that this will yield positive results so as to secure the lives of future generations.

Representatives from vaious Partner organisations at the launch of the Campaign at Serena Hotel

With the vast majority of Uganda’s population being predominantly young, there is every reason for this campaign to be a big deal because it addresses nearly every problem that the young people would otherwise face. Most young people have problems accessing Youth Friendly Services (YFS) and this leads to a multitude of problems. According to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), out of every four teenage girls aged between 15 and 19 years, one is already a mother or is pregnant with what will turn out to be the first of many children. More than 25% of Ugandan girls have sex before they turn 15. This simply goes to show that the lack of access to SRH information causes more problems than we think and solving it would create some relief.

The RAHU Cultural Icons performing a song to commemorate the launch of the campaign at Serena Hotel

It must be noted that the idea of SRH is not one that is new to the scene. It has been around for quite a while but unfortunately, not much emphasis has been put on advancing it and this is why there is a lot of talk about the fertility levels of the country. At a whooping rate of 6.2 children per woman, the fertility rate reflects a society that has not embraced the idea of SRH. With this campaign, the instance of unwanted pregnancies, spread of STDS and HIV/AIDs would be curbed, and there would be a more reliable population of young people who will formidably and ably take the world to the next era.

People need to break the silence and speak up; do away with stigma surrounding Sexual Reproductive Health, avail more Youth Friendly Services and continue to get in the spaces occupied by the young people so as to talk to them in a language they understand about the things that affect them. Let us teach the young ones how to go about this monster of Sexual Reproductive Health.

“Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.” ― Aristotle

Bernard
a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
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