Health minister Jane Ruth Aceng
Information on management of side effects of family planning methods and vaccines is one of the new features contained in the new edition of the Uganda Clinical Guidelines (UCG).
Family planning is critical in the development of our nation as highlighted by several stake holders during this year’s commemoration of World Population Day on July 11.
The World Health Organisation acknowledges that access to safe, voluntary family planning is a human right and is central to gender equality and women’s empowerment. In addition, it is a key factor in reducing poverty, which is partly attributed to couples having big families to look after.
However, in Uganda, the high fertility rate of about 6 children per woman has been attributed to an unmet need for family planning.
Dr Charles Kiggundu, a gynaecologist, explains that an unmet need for family planning refers to people who are sexually active and want to delay pregnancy, stop having children or do not want to start having children, but they are not using an effective contraception.
The 2016 UDHS states that in Uganda, 28% of married women have an unmet need for family planning services, while the percentage of unmarried women is 32%.
In addition to lack of access, reasons why people do not use family planning is fear of side effects. However, with the new guidelines, couples are advised to seek medical care in case of any severe adverse effects if the use family planning.
Kiggundu advises those who suffer complications arising from family planning methods to seek medical advice.
The UCG (2016) is meant to guide prescribers and other healthcare practitioners in the treatment and management of common conditions. It was launched by the health ministry at the Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala on Tuesday, together with the Essential Medicines and Health Supplies List of Uganda 2016 (EMHSL).
Speaking at the launch, health minister Jane Ruth Aceng noted that diagnosis and prescription of medication, will enable prescribers to provide the most cost-effective and affordable treatment of priority health conditions in the country.
This in turn is expected to ensure access to and availability of medicines and diagnostic supplies and guaranteeing the overall quality of care received by the patients.
In addition to guidelines on managing side-effects of family planning, other new features include guidelines on maternal and child health and information on diseases that was not previously there.
These include haemorrhagic fever, yellow fever, chronic hepatitis B, stroke and progressive lung diseases. Information about anaemia, sickle cell disease, atrial fibrillation, headache, nodding disease, menopause and prostate diseases has also been added.
There are also sections on non-communicable diseases (diabetes, hypertension and asthma).