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Parliament Debates Controversial Ministry Proposal on Teenage Contraceptives

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ugandas parliament debates controversial ministry proposal on teenage contraceptives
ugandas parliament debates controversial ministry proposal on teenage contraceptives
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On October 10, 2023, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa criticized a proposal from the Ministry of Health regarding the eligibility age for contraceptives. The proposal suggested lowering the age at which teenage girls could access birth control pills, a move Tayebwa considered as potentially legitimizing defilement.

Hon. Lucy Akello, the Woman Representative for Amuru District, raised the issue during a parliamentary session, citing a story in the Daily Monitor newspaper. According to the newspaper, girls as young as 15 years could access birth control pills under the proposed plan.

Tayebwa voiced his concerns, labeling the proposal as both unlawful and a failure to protect young girls. He expressed hope that such thoughts would never be considered, as they could be seen as formalizing defilement.

He suggested that the government should instead focus on strengthening efforts against defilement, rather than promoting contraceptives, which he viewed as potentially contributing to the problem.

In response, Hon. Margaret Muhanga Mugisa, the Minister of State for Health (Primary Health Care), clarified that the Daily Monitor had misconstrued the situation. She explained that the proposal was merely a suggestion put forward by the ministry’s Director for Curative Services, Dr. Charles Olaro. Dr. Olaro had raised the idea in response to the rising issue of teenage pregnancies and related deaths.

Muhanga emphasized that the proposal had not become an official policy and that Dr. Olaro had been exploring potential options to address the problem. She highlighted the urgency of the situation, with many underage girls facing pregnancy-related risks, including maternal mortality and early marriage.

Akello raised concerns about the potential health effects of contraceptives on young girls, including the risk of increased HIV infections. She called for a comprehensive study to assess the implications of providing contraceptives to this demographic to ensure their safety.