Today, Uganda has the second youngest population in the world, with 56 percent of its population younger than 18 years old. And most of those are unemployed and low skilled, which raises the danger of over-dependency on the state.
Details availed by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) show that 34 percent of the population falls between 10 and 24 out of an estimated 33.2 million people in Uganda.
“If we do not get to focus much of our resources on this sect of the population starting now, Uganda will remain poor, unable to support herself in ten years’ time,” Dr. Kisamba Mugerwa told Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka.
This sect of the population today is unemployed, unskilled, and their health is not well catered for.
“It can be seen that more and more skilled foreigners will take over, among other dangers,“ Dr. Kisamba warned. ‘It is time to act by committing more resources in areas like health and education. “
It is projected that by 2016 Uganda will have 10.4 million adolescents, a population that will have become sexually active and thus predisposed to early pregnancy and STI infection, including HIV.
“Despite this potential, young people face the risk of HIV infection, sexual coercion, unfair gender relation and very high school dropout, early teenage pregnancy, and low level of contraceptive utilization,” researchers warned in the State of Uganda and World Population Reports.
At the same time, adolescent girls in poor communities face serious obstacles, including early marriage and childbearing that impede their ability to make healthy transitions into adulthood. Often this has tragic consequences.
“Complications during pregnancy or childbearing are the leading cause of death for girls ages 15 to 19 in developing countries,” UBOS Executive Director Male Mukasa said during a press conference about the report.
The country report highlights that maternal mortality rate continue at an unacceptably high level noting that while maternal mortality figures vary widely by source and are highly controversial, the best estimates for Uganda suggest that roughly 6,000 to 14,000 women and girls die each year due to pregnancy-related complications.
Additionally, another 130,000 to 405,000 women and girls suffer from disabilities caused by complications during pregnancy and the lack of cost-effective health care services.
“Reducing maternal mortality and disability will depend on identifying and improving those services that are critical to the health of Ugandan women and girls, including antenatal care, emergency obstetric care, and adequate postpartum care for mothers and babies, and family planning and STI/HIV/AIDS services,” the statistic agency head said.
In the delivery of services, the report finds that the infrastructure and equipment for the supply of maternal health services still needs further improvement, finding that only five percent of facilities have a vacuum extractor for assisted vaginal delivery.
Insufficient supplies and commodities, as well as limitations in transport and communication for referral, are also key bottlenecks in the supply of maternal health services.
“Physical access, especially transportation for skilled attendance and emergency obstetric care, is a particular constraint,” the report stated.
“Other bottlenecks affecting utilization and demand for maternal health services include indirect financial costs, such as those associated with transportation and access to drugs (despite the abolition of user fees), as well as cultural norms and social influences.”
It argues that if adolescents are given proper health care, proper education and empowerment to attend to their sexual health, they may not transfer poverty to their children.
“Educated girls are less likely to marry early and get pregnant, more likely to have correct and comprehensive knowledge of sexual and reproductive health and have healthy children when they become mothers,” the report notes.
By Sam Simba Ntale