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Ugandans now live longer

By Apollo Mubiru, Betty Amamukirori

Added 26th October 2018 11:04 AM

“This is the first country to improve life expectancy in 20 years. This has been possible because of the NRM government. We should learn to give credit where it’s due,” the minister told participants

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“This is the first country to improve life expectancy in 20 years. This has been possible because of the NRM government. We should learn to give credit where it’s due,” the minister told participants

Uganda’s life expectancy has improved from 43 to 63 years, the state of Uganda and world population 2018 reports have shown.

With the life expectancy of Ugandans rising to 63, it means Uganda has made major strides. A recent UN Sustainable Development Solutions network on Social Development Goals index report placed Uganda on top with 54.9% higher than the sub-Saharan Africa average of 52.8%.

The 2015 World Bank report put Uganda life expectancy at 62, Rwanda 69, Burundi 59, Kenya 69, South Sudan 57 and Tanzania 67.

Finance state minister in charge of planning, David Bahati, hastened to attribute the improved life expectancy to the prevailing peace and security by the NRM government.

“This is the first country to improve life expectancy in 20 years. This has been possible because of the NRM government. We should learn to give credit where it’s due,” the minister told participants who turned up for the launch of the report in Kampala on Thursday.

The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, launched the report titled: Governance; a pre-requisite to harness the demographic dividend for sustainable development.

Kadaga asked government to prioritise good governance and proper planning of the youth who make the biggest percentage of Uganda’s population.

“Let us plan for the generation to come after us and also give the youth a channel for advancement and create job opportunities for them,” Kadaga said.

Bahati said government is to focus on reducing the high infant, child and maternal mortality, high fertility and high dependence.

“We need investment that will help to reduce fertility and mortality, change the current unfavorable age structure and this must be accompanied by strategic investment in education and skill development, health, economic reforms that enhance job creation and improve good governance and accountability,” Bahati said.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) country representative, Alain Sibenaler, noted that young women do not have access to family planning methods. He noted that 46% of women who enroll for family planning abandon it in their first 12 months because they cannot either afford them or unavailable. 

28% of Ugandan women have an unmet need for family planning services which leads to having more children than they want. According to the 2011 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), more than four in 10 births are unplanned.

The state of the world population report compiled by UNFPA titled: “The Power of Choice: Reproductive Rights and the Demographic Transition,” indicates that family size is closely linked with reproductive rights, which, in turn, are tied to many other rights, including the right to adequate health, education, and jobs.

UNFPA is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. UNFPA reaches millions of women and young people in 155 countries and territories.

High fertility means that the increase in the number of younger people in the years ahead will make it harder for countries to ensure access to quality education and health care, and for economies to generate sufficient opportunities to productively engage the many young people entering the labour market.

“The extent to which individuals and couples are able to exercise their reproductive rights can determine whether fertility in the region remains high or decreases in the coming years. How governments support these rights will therefore have implications for countries’ social and economic development,” the reports notes.

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