Kyejonjo religious leaders urge government to allocate funds for family planning activities

By Alice Lubwama

Religious leaders from Kyenjojo district under western Uganda faith based organizations have asked Government through the ministry of finance to allocate funds for family planning activities and release them on time so that people mainly the teenagers can access the services.

The religious leaders made the appeal during a multi-stakeholders meeting organized by faith for family health initiative in Kyenjonjo district to review the impact of the family planning coasted implementation plan.

The men of God observed that the district mainly depends on donor money to offer family planning services which risks the activities in the event that donors decide to pull out.

A review of the health facility financial date shows that only 15 percent of family planning funds budgeted for the financial year 2018/2019 came from Government sources and in 2017/2018 the district did not contribute any funds towards the same.

The chairperson Kyenjojo Pentecostal churches council victor Sunday Sserunjogi asked fellow religious leaders not to reject the knowledge on family planning but pick what is in line within their doctrines so they integrate the knowledge with in the teachings.

“I have been serving in the church for the last thirteen years but what I have realized is that leaders reject knowledge before they get it.” Sserunjogi said.

Pastor Sserunjogi says that instead of insisting that family planning is not good, they can sit with the medical personnel and agree on the best modern methods because believes are already using them.

He also suggests that churches come up with a special budget for health as part of their offertories, so they are able to organize meetings with men and women to talk on issues of family planning.

He said that as religious leaders they do not need to bury their heads in the sand when it is a reality that people produce more children than they can manage.

Sserunjogi adds that if we don’t raise good families then we will invest more in crime prevention.

Mwenge North mp Lawrence Akugizibwe promised to work with colleagues in parliament to lobby for a special fund for family planning services so that people continue access the services even if the donors pull out.

Dr Martin Ruhweza from Kyenjojo hospital said women need to consult their spouses before they choose a family planning method to avoid unnecessary violence and for them to also support women to continue using family planning. “Sometimes when they have not been involved it has led to violence , so to be on the safe side you should always discuss with your spouse.” Ruhweza said.

The family planning coasted implementation plan funded by population action international was launched in 2016 in Kyenjojo district with the aim of encouraging districts with high population growth to allocate a certain percentage of funds to family planning services.

The executive chairperson board and management faith for family health initiative Jackie Katana says that according to their research the project has achieved its objective of religious leaders tracking the family planning funds because and be able to conduct a budget analysis, monitor the funds disbursed and make recommendations.

The meeting was attended by area MPs, senior interfaith leaders, civil society organizations, district leaders and district health team.

Mityana inter-faith leaders push for allocation of family planning funds

By Alice Lubwama

Senior Inter faith leaders from Mityana have committed to work with the district local government leaders to truck the integrated family planning funds up to the intended user.

They made the commitment during a multi stakeholder’s dialogue organized by faith for family health initiative discussing the expenditure and accountability of the family planning funds.

During the same meeting the district health officer Dr Fred Lwasampijja observed that although Mityana District was the first to develop the family planning costed implementation plan in the country, it has been difficult to determine the amount of funds allocated to family planning provision because the district has no clear family planning budget line.

Lwasampijja is also concerned with the delay and reduced disbursement of funds for health budget from the central government to the district which has led to stock outs resulting to decreased uptake of family planning services.

Reverend Moses Ssemugooma of Mityana diocese says that as religious leaders they will continue engaging the policy makers and donors to ensure prompt and timely disbursement of the health budget.
Ssemugooma also has asked the district leadership to determine the percentage of the health budget which should go to family planning to facilitate transparency and accountability.

“There is need to advocate for better health services because, 17 percent of girls in the district are getting pregnant and the cases of abortion are alarming so we need to do something to save the situation, Ssemugooma noted.

Sheikh Abdalla katongole of the Uganda Muslim supreme council said that the drop in family planning allocation has greatly impacted on the family planning provision, yet the number of teenage pregnancies has highly gone up due to the fact that children are not at school.` `Although we encourage children to abstain from sex but many of them especially those between 12 to 18 years are getting pregnant because they have engaged in different activities while at home, for a long period.

Sheik katogole asks the policy makers to think of ways how children can go back to school because they are more safe there than at home.
katongole add that as religious leaders, they will work with the medical personnel in Mityana district to develop messages for the communities on the advantages and disadvantages of family planning so that they make informed decisions.

Clergy applauded for promoting family planning

By Alice Lubwama

The chairperson of the health committee of parliament DR Michael Bukenya assures religious leaders that the health budget will not be reduced from the 2.6 trillion shillings that was allocated last year.

The religious leaders led by the deputy Mufti Uganda Muslim supreme council Sheikh Ali Waiswa are concerned about the declining investment in the health sector which would definitely affect Family planning budget (from 7.9%-5%) •

They are also concerned with the low absorption of funds by the ministry of health due to late release and want the funds allocated for different programs to be accounted for.

Bukenya says that although the call circular that was earlier sent to parliament by the ministry of finance had indicated a decline in the health budget, but parliament has recommended for even more funds for the sector.

The health budget was allocated 2.6 trillion in financial year 2019-2020.

Bukenya notes that parliament has also proposed an allocation of extra 15 billion shillings for Maama kits on top of the 16 billion shillings allocated for reproductive health supplies.

He has commended the religious leaders for the job well done in advocating for family planning financing so that Ugandans can have manageable families.

The inter faith dialogue was convened by an organization faith for family health initiative with the aim of bringing together religious leaders and decision makers to discuss how they can work together to improve the health of Ugandans with more emphasis on family planning.

New inter religious alliance to promote family planning

By Alice Lubwama

Representatives of different religious organizations have launched an interfaith alliance which will coordinate faith based organizations that will promote family planning.

The launch was done at the end of the two day national family planning conference which took place at Speke Resort Munyonyo.

The alliance will also be used to mobilize funds to support family planning services and building capacity for religious leaders as family planning champions.

The Catholic Church was represented by sister Jacinta Mukamalimpa from Kyenjojo diocese, the Anglican Church was represented by Bishop Amos Magezi of North West Ankole diocese, while the Pentecostal church was represented by Pastor Joseph serwadda and Sheik Mohammadali Waiswa the deputy mufti Uganda Muslim supreme council represented the Muslims.

The deputy mufti Uganda Muslim supreme council Sheik Muhammadali Waiswa said that although it is a taboo to talk about family planning within the Muslim community, with the continuous mobilization and sensitization of the people by the religious leaders, the Muslim community is now receptive to family planning and now regularly access the services.

Speaking on behalf of the Pentecostal churches, the Presiding Apostle of Born Again faith, Pastor Joseph Serwadda said that the Bible supports planning; it’s the reason why a number of people in the old testament got children at the late age. Serwada further said that Family planning is Godly but it should be managed by the people who understand it.

Reverend Moses Semugooma who represented the Anglican Archbishop elect Bishop Stephen Kazimba Mugalu who is also a family planning champion said that the religious leaders need to support the family planning services so that mothers can get information to make the right decision.

Semugooma noted that if the leaders come out openly to speak about family planning, they will have a healthy population who will support the church.

He revealed that the Anglican Church has already committed to promote health and through Mityana diocese, the church supported the district local government to develop the family planning implementation coasted plan now being used as reference point for the entire country.

“It was Mityana diocese church of Uganda through faith for family heath initiative and population action international that came out to support the district to have the family planning implementation coasted plan. He emphasized.

Speaking at the same function ,the executive secretary of the catholic medical bureau Dr Ronald Kasyaba said that there are scriptural references that support the catholic church on family planning but the deference has been on the methods used.

However, he said that the church is now coming out strongly to do the promotion of the effective modern methods that are consistent with the doctrine of the Catholic Church, like standard day’s method, lactation amenorrhea method for breast feeding mothers and the 2day method. “There is no choice the priests should talk about the benefits of family planning, but we are not teaching them to practice and tell the people which method they use but tell them where to go. He said.

The board chairperson of Faith for family health initiative Jackie katana said, there was need to engage the religious leaders to spread the gospel on family planning services after a study on the status of family planning indicated that communities were not getting the right information and counseling on services.

She has however urged the ministry of health to target the resource allocation to demand generation and community mobilization.

Religious leaders want family planning to be directed to youths

By Alice Lubwama

The Uganda Muslim supreme council calls on stakeholders in the health sector to target family planning services to the youth since they are more sexually active and potential victims of early pregnancy.

While launching the family planning costed implementation plan for Iganga district,the 2nd deputy Mufti Uganda Muslim council Sheik Waiswa Muhammed Ali said that although as religious leaders do not encourage sex before marriage but the youth confront challenges unwillingly and it’s the reason why they need knowledge on family planning in order to over come them.

The family planning costed implementation plan is a commitment made by the leaders of the district to make a clear allocation and mobilization of funds for family planning services.

The initiative was developed by faith for family health initiative an NGO advocates for better health through faith in order to increase the funding for family planning services in the country , especially in districts with high fertility rates but with high levels of poverty

Speaking at the same function, the Chairperson of health committee of parliament Dr Micheal Bukenya asked the district council to scrutinize the sexual reproductive health policy recently developed by the ministry of health so that they can make bye-laws and ordinances to address issues such as early marriages and teenage pregnancies.

According to the assistant district health officer Iganga Baluka Anne Mary Iganga has 6-5% fertility rate compared to 5.4 % national fertility rate ,saying there is need to control it.

Despite the high fertility rate, the use of contraceptives in Iganga is 35 % compared to the national target of 50%

Religious leaders commit to lobby for more funds for family planning services

By Alice Lubwama

Representatives of faith based organizations in Uganda including Protestant, Muslim, catholic, Adventist and born again faith have further committed to lobby for more allocation of funds for family planning services also pledge to sensitize their congregation on manageable families for the nation to have a health population.

During a meeting to review Uganda’s progress on the 2020 national target to implement family planning programs to reach women, men, youth, and communities with voluntary high-quality services and information to meet their needs , the religious leaders agreed to lobby government and development partners to provide more funds in order to have orderly families.

The bishop of Mityana diocese Right Reverend Stephen Kazimba Mugalu also a family champion amongst religious leaders say he was grateful to see churches and other religious leaders realizing their mandate to save lives.

Bishop Kazimba has also asked fellow religious leaders to put family planning into right perspective by not misinterpreting the scripture in the bible of producing and filling the whole earth.

DR Betty kyadondo the director family health at the National population council says that the rate at which Uganda was progressing at increasing the modern contraceptive prevalence rate to 50% was good enough and she is optimistic that the country will met its targets.

Kyadodo however note that Uganda’s biggest challenge was reaching the adolescent girls to use family planning because they engage in sex and get pregnant frequently and also married off to men older than them and don’t support them to use family planning.

In 2012 Uganda’s prevalence rate Of use of modern contraceptive was at 28% but it has now increased to 36% .

The UN foundation through faith for family health NGO advocates for better health, has been supporting religious leaders to engage both the local and central government to allocation more funds for family planning services.

The advocacy has seen 8 districts I. Uganda also Ting a portion of their health budge to family planning services. The districts include Namayingo, Mubende, Busia, iganga,kyejnjojo, Kagadi,Kabarole,and Mityana.