How Transformative SRH Training Bridges Policy, Address Critical Health Challenges in Uganda

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By Kamara Daniel

Kampala: Sexual reproductive health (SRH) remains a critical yet often neglected area in public health, especially in developing countries like Uganda. Monday 8th and Tuesday 9th of July 2024, I had the privilege of attending a transformative two-day training organized by the Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) in collaboration with Kyetume CBHCP This training, themed “From Practice to Policy: Increasing Advocacy and Sensitization of Providers,” aimed to enhance understanding, skills, and advocacy efforts related to SRH issues among healthcare providers and stakeholders.

The training was held to engage health stakeholders and address challenges in SRH in Uganda, including high maternal mortality rates, limited access to contraception, stigma around reproductive health services, Post Abortion Care, Safe Abortion and inadequate, restricted policy frameworks to protect and promote SRH rights. Throughout the two days, a diverse group of participants including healthcare providers, policymakers, community health workers, and advocates gathered to delve into these complex issues and explore actionable strategies for change.

 Bridging the Gap Between Practice and Policy

The first day of the training focused on bridging the gap between SRHR practice and policy. Sessions were designed to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of the legal and policy frameworks governing SRHR in Uganda. Facilitators from CEHURD, renowned for their expertise in health rights advocacy, guided us through the intricacies of laws and policies affecting SRHR, emphasizing the importance of legal literacy in advocacy efforts.

Key topics included reproductive rights, access to healthcare services, informed consent, and the rights of marginalized populations such as adolescents, teenagers and people living with HIV/AIDS. Case studies and interactive discussions allowed participants to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios, highlighting challenges and opportunities for policy reform.

A highlight of the day was a panel discussion featuring policymakers and legal experts who shared insights into the process of translating SRH policies into effective practice. This session underscored the critical role of advocacy in influencing policy change and ensuring accountability in SRH service delivery.

 Strengthening Advocacy and Sensitization

The second day focused on strengthening advocacy and sensitization efforts among healthcare providers and communities. Sessions were tailored to equip participants with practical skills in communication, community engagement, and advocacy strategies. Facilitators from CEHURD, with extensive grassroots experience, led sessions on effective communication techniques, cultural sensitivity, and building trust within communities.

Participants engaged in role-playing exercises and group discussions to explore strategies for overcoming barriers to SRHR education and service provision. Emphasis was placed on the importance of collaborative partnerships between healthcare providers, community leaders, and civil society organizations in advancing SRHR rights.

A highlight of the day was a workshop on media engagement and storytelling for advocacy, where participants learned how to leverage traditional and social media platforms to raise awareness about SRHR issues and amplify the voices of marginalized communities. Practical tools and resources were shared to empower participants to become effective advocates for SRH rights within their respective spheres of influence.

Key Takeaways and Reflections

The training left a profound impact on all participants, myself included. It provided a platform for knowledge exchange, networking, and collective action towards addressing SRH challenges in Uganda. Here are some key takeaways and reflections from the experience:

  1. Intersectionality and Inclusivity: Understanding the intersectionality of SRH issues with other social determinants such as gender, societal norms, poverty, and education is crucial for developing holistic solutions.
  2. Policy and overall Advocacy: Effective advocacy requires a deep understanding of legal frameworks and policy processes, coupled with strategic partnerships and evidence-based approaches.
  3. Community Engagement: Building trust and engaging communities in meaningful dialogue is essential for overcoming cultural barriers and promoting acceptance of SRH services.
  4. Media and Communications: Harnessing the power of media and storytelling can amplify advocacy efforts and foster public discourse on SRH issues.
  5. Continued Learning and Collaboration: SRH is a dynamic field that requires continuous learning, adaptation to new challenges, and collaboration across sectors for sustainable impact.

In conclusion, the SRH training conducted by CEHURD and Kyetume CBHCP was not just an educational event but a catalyst for change. It empowered participants to advocate for SRHR rights, bridge the gap between policy and practice, and strengthen healthcare systems to better serve communities in Uganda. Moving forward, the challenge lies in sustaining momentum, expanding partnerships, and translating knowledge into tangible actions that improve SRHR, and empower health workers with all Continous Professional Developments, Webinars and general outcomes for all.

Kamara Daniel is a Health Worker & Advocate of SRHR Services.

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