In this part of Uganda, contraceptive prevalence is very low; family planning service provision has been almost non-existent, and on-going violence and insecurity makes providing services difficult.
Many thousands of women in the region have not heard of family planning and face huge cultural barriers to controlling their own fertility.
Family planning services are vital in combating the high unmet need for contraception and the unacceptable maternal mortality rates that persist in Karamoja.
Issues of high population growth and family planning have for long been on the agendas of organisations involved in advocacy for sexual and reproductive health and rights, along with a key focus being government-facing advocacy intended to get the government to increase funding for reproductive health.
The net benefits that accrue from investing in family planning include: reduced abortions and unplanned births, promotion of maternal and child health and saving of lives, and reduction of health care costs.
There are drastic reductions in the unintended pregnancies and abortions if all needs for family planning are met.
Conversely, when family planning needs are not met, there are many unintended pregnancies and high rates of abortions. Therefore, family planning leads to reduction of costs associated with unintended pregnancies, maternal and child health services whereas if no method of family planning was used, no saving would be effected.
For instance, the Uganda government would spend approximately US$ 268 million on managing unintended pregnancies in any financial year. On the other hand, if 50% of unmet need for family planning was met, the cost of managing unintended pregnancies would be reduced to US $ 105 Million.
If all the 100% of unmet need for family planning was met, the Uganda government would spend only US$ 32 million on unintended pregnancies.
Uganda reproductive health has teamed up with Local NGOs to train and teach women on family planning. AWARE In Kaabong District launched the Reproductive Health and Family Planning [project] on 11 November 2011, with community health workers – building the capacity of the public sector to do its work.
Sister Margaret Ajilong and Grace Loumo are two of AWARE’s public sector health workers who have helped to provide family planning services to the underserved communities of Karamoja in the northeast of Uganda.