KAMPALA, Uganda --- After a 400-kilometre flight past the expanding suburbs of Kampala that give way to lush fields and hills, a small aircraft carrying a group of journalists and a photographer landed on the dirt airstrip of the Kihihi airport, in the Kanungu district, near the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Their mission: to highlight the ways family planning is making a difference in creating a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
Starting at Kanungu Health Centre IV, on the outskirts of the town of Kanunug, journalists interviewed pregnant women at a waiting facility set up by UNFPA and its partners to save expectant mothers from the hardship of the long journeys during the final stages of pregnancy. They also met with mothers who had just delivered at the nearby maternity ward.
Next stop was the UNFPA Surgical Camp, where tens of women, and a few men, were lining up to receive family planning counselling and services, and to undergo testing for HIV and cervical cancer, another sexually transmitted infection. Those women lucky enough to have their partners with them moved faster —a small incentive to encourage male involvement in women’s reproductive health issues. The Camp is run by a voluntary health team—community members who had been trained to address the sexual and reproductive health needs of the community.
At a UNFPA-supported health centre, 400 kilometers southwest of Uganda’s capital, villagers are able to receive a wide range of reproductive health services, including family planning counselling and supplies, and testing for HIV and cervical cancer. The clinic also offers vasectomies.
Journalists then drove to the UNFPA-supported Knaaba Health Centre II, accessed through a long dirt road winding up and down the Kanungu picturesque mountains that are famous for their tea plantations. Most of the Knaaba village women, in their colourful dresses, were gathered on the centre's lawn, surrounded by a green mountain that is traversed by a long waterfall. They were waiting there for the results of tests that they had taken earlier in the day.
A trained member of the community’s voluntary health team would call on the women, one by one and usher each into a cubicle inside the clinic. There, another volunteer would share the results and offer guidance and counselling. The Knaaba clinic also provided a variety of family planning methods to the community, including contraception implants and vasectomy.
Here are some of the stories generated by the journalists:
- Where Teenage Pregnancy is a Death Sentence
- The Long March to Family Planning in Uganda
- Community Volunteers Convince Ugandan Families to Have Fewer Children
- Family Planning Faces Hurdles in Uganda