Govt Asked to Invest in Reproductive Health Services

1384 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
This follows a move by American President Donald Trump to reinstate the Mexico City Policy; a part of the US law that banned using US foreign aid for abortion-related activities. Under previous Republican administrations, the restrictions in the Mexico City Policy applied specifically to US family planning funds, totaling approximately USD 575 million.

Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU), a Ugandan NGO providing Sexual and Reproductive Health services, is calling upon government to invest more in family planning services in order to save millions of Ugandan women whose lives are in jeopardy due to a cut in foreign aid.

This follows a move by American President Donald Trump to reinstate the Mexico City Policy; a part of the US law that banned using US foreign aid for abortion-related activities. Under previous Republican administrations, the restrictions in the Mexico City Policy applied specifically to US family planning funds, totaling approximately USD 575 million.

However, Trump's policy extends restrictions to an estimated USD 8.8 billion in US global health assistance, including funding support for family planning and reproductive health, maternal and child health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS - including The President's Plan for Emergency Relief for AIDS (PEPFAR), among others.

This implies that funding to a number of Ugandan projects will be frozen. Affected organizations include, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) which funds Reproductive Health Uganda, Marie Stopes International (MSI) and Marie Stopes Uganda.

According to  a recent report by Human Rights Watch, the policy, otherwise known as the 'Global Gag Rule, is likely to undermine progress on health outcomes in several countries including Uganda, where women and girls entirely depend on foreign aid to access contraception and related services. 

They observe that such restrictions will cause easily preventable maternal deaths, both due to unsafe abortion and to an increase in unplanned pregnancies in places where rates of maternal mortality are already high.

Richard Mugenyi, the Head of Advocacy and Communications at Reproductive Health Uganda -RHU says that government needs to invest more in family planning programmes to bridge the gap brought about by the Global Gag Rule.
 
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Mugenyi says that government needs to move fast to support the organizations which have been supplying most of the country's contraceptive to people in both urban and rural areas. With the recent cuts in funding, he says many people are bound to suffer. More than 30 percent of Reproductive Health Uganda funding from IPPF has been cut.

Marie Stopes International's Vice-President for Strategy and Development Megan Elliot is quoted in an article in The Guardian Newspaper saying that they had managed to secure some European funding but had no money for programmes in 2018, following the MCP.

"I am desperately worried for the women of Uganda. Funding will have a pretty dramatic impact," she said.

MSU, offers family planning, maternal health, post abortion care, circumcision, general health, laboratory, HIV/STI testing and Management and Cervical Cancer screening and preventive therapy services in 15 clinics and 27 mobile health teams across the country

According to MSU, a total of 1.1 million Ugandans are estimated to have received contraceptives from them. This helped prevent 342,800 unplanned pregnancies and 170,000 unsafe abortions.

Mugenyi says that President Museveni should fulfill his commitment made at the 2012 Family Planning Summit in London and provide funds contraceptive supplies.
 
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At the 2017 Family Planning Summit, the minister of Health Sarah Aceng recommitted to allocating USD 5 million for family planning in Uganda's national budget.

According to Mugenyi, one of the projects whose funding by USAID will stop today is the Sayana Press hormonal birth control contraceptive that was enrolled in Mbarara, Kabarole, Kabale, Gulu and Fort Portal. Sayana Press is a hormonal injectable birth control injection that women can give to themselves once every three months.