By Francis Emorut
Health experts have disagreed on whether to offer family planning services to teenagers saying the latter need them to avoid abortion, pregnancy related cases and death.
“For us in medical ethics our motto is doing no harm. If an adolescent consents to the service and if she is sexually active go ahead and provide the service,” Dr. Dorothy Balaba, the country manager of Programme for Accessible Health Communication and Education said.
“It’s more helpful to prevent a girl from getting pregnant and performing abortion which may lead to losing her life,” she stated.
The country manager argued that Ministry of Health allows health providers to offer family planning methods to adolescents if they are doing no harm.
She explained that it is only if the young ones are sexually active.
Dr.Balaba was backed by Dr. Milly Kaggwa, the programme director of PACE who said there is need to give adolescents friendly reproductive health services to teenagers to help to curb abortion and prevent pregnancy related cases as well as death.
“After informed consent which an adolescent has asked for, go ahead and offer family planning services. You can’t send her back until she is 18 years of age,” she told health service providers and medical professionals.
The medics made remarks during Profam quarterly stakeholders meeting at Hotel Africana in Kampala.
They were specifically responding to questions what a health service provider should do when a 13-year old girl seeks family planning services.
To emphasise her point she invited the public and health providers who have not visited Mulago referral hospital to visit the facility and appreciate the gravity of a problem seeing 13-15-year old girls writhing in pain due to complications related to pregnancy.
“When you go to Mulago you will find a 15-year old girl having complications related to pregnancy,” Dr. Kaggwa said.
But Dr. Micah Lopita of Family Nursing Home in Kamuli district disagreed with his fellow medics saying offering family planning services to the teenagers tantamount to breaking the law.
The law considers one a child if she/he is below 18 years.
Lopita pointed out that by giving family planning services to the young ones the health services providers would stand a risk of being accused of aiding defilement.
“What does the law say? Shall we not be accused of aiding defilement?” Lopita wondered.
Medics disagree on family planning for teens