Uganda’s poor distribution of family planning products as stocks pile up in the National Medical Stores has come under scrutiny at the international conference on population.
By Anne Mugisa in Addis Ababa
Uganda’s poor distribution of family planning products as stocks pile up in the National Medical Stores (NMS) has come under scrutiny at the international conference on population, health and environment in Addis Ababa.
The sustainability conference at the sidelines of the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) drew participants globally. Stacks of family planning commodities remain undistributed at the NMS which has blamed district health offices for not requisitioning for them.
However, some providers have disputed NMS’ assertion and said that the issue is the push system that was adapted the ministry of health where supplies are just sent even without first finding out the ones that the people want. In many cases, too few stocks are sent to the districts.
As a result there are frequent stock outs of family planning products at health facilities especially in hard to reach areas of the country, according to Dora Taranta from the Hope Lake Victoria Basin (LVB) Project. There is also general limited knowledge of family planning among communities yet many of them assert that they want methods to stop frequent pregnancies, she said.
Uganda is one of the countries with the fastest population growth rate at 3.2% per year. Most of the Ugandan population is youth whose fertility has also been said to be very high. As a result of the high fertility, the country’s youth population between 10 to 24 which stands at 12.3million is projected to raise to 29.5million in less than 40 years.
According to data from the US Population Reference Bureau, only 26% of Ugandan married women aged 15-49 used modern contraceptive methods and the total number that is using contraception including the modern methods are 30%.
The conference is sponsored by the USAID, David Lucile and Packard Foundation, the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) and the Population, Health and Environment Consortium of Ethiopia. The conference is aimed at putting a spotlight on the connection between unplanned population growth, environmental degradation and health which in concert hamper development and threaten livelihoods.
In 1990, Uganda’s forest cover was 5million hectares. But as a result of the population pressure, the country has lost half of its forest cover in the last 20 years and loses 92,000 ha per year. Further projections indicate that if the trend continues the country will have lost all its forested land by 2050 which is less than 40 years.
The implication is that water resources will disappear with the water catchments areas, which are already dwindling. And, according to research by Annet Nakyeyune, an Environmentalist at Makerere University, this will affect agriculture production tremendously affecting people’s livelihoods.
The problem is not with Uganda alone, only a few countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, which include Ethiopia, Rwanda and Malawi, have shown an impressive increase in the adaption of modern family planning methods.
The participants at the conference called for commitment of governments to commit resources and time to address population, health and environment issues in an integrated way as the only way for survival.
Shewane Derise of Ethio Wetlands and Natural Resources Association (EWNRA) said governments and other actors must learn that there is a bond between natural resources and livelihoods and that the rapid population growth is causing poverty and climate change.
He said unless the governments strike a balance between natural resources and family sizes and population growth, environmental degradation due to population pressure will continue and poverty will increase.
“There is need to understand the impact of natural resources management on food production, fresh water supply, fresh air and medicine. People should also be made to understand the impact of population growth on natural resources, large families; large families on children’s future well being; and family planning on family well being and the environment,” Derise said.
Uganda''s poor distribution of family planning products criticized