Experts have expressed concern over the continued lack of special adolescent health clinics or corners in public health facilities in Kampala.
The experts including doctors, Ministry of Health officials, clerks, politicians, and private individuals who run adolescent clinics say that the youth desks and centres which had initially been set up at health facilities are non-functional.
At the meeting held on Friday, the Kawempe Division Mayor Emmanuel Sserunjogi said while still working under Kampala City Council (KCC), they had facilities at the division headquarters which were designated for young people to seek services such as treatment for urinary tract infections and provision of condoms but these were phased out with the coming of KCCA.
Sande Alex Bashaija, a Senior Probation and Welfare Officer at the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development said that the ministry is currently developing a National Child Policy where they have put provisions pushing for revamping of the corners.
Dr. Dinah Nakiganda, the Asst. Commissioner Adolescent Health in the Ministry of Health said it is very expensive for the government to set up and run stand-alone adolescent health facilities.
She said they are instead integrating the Sexual and Reproductive Health needs of adolescents into the general guidelines of care given to health facilities. Also, she adds the other challenge with having stand-alone facilities is they will need adolescent health specialists to run them.
At the meeting, there were proposals to the government on other different routes through which they can reach adolescents with health information and care. For instance, Rowena Kamasai, a program manager at the Agha Khan Foundation said they have piloted an initiative in Arua and Kampala where adolescent girls seek care through mobile phone applications.
The app was developed to curb among others teenage pregnancies, offer sexual reproductive health information, connect adolescent girls with clinical and pharmacy service providers in their areas, and encourage service uptake through a rewards-based system through which girls gain points that can be exchanged for goods such as sanitary at participating retailers.
Kamasai says that the program was targeted to reach twenty thousand girls but so far reached over thirty-one thousand adolescent girls. Such she proposes can be done by the government.
Dr. Rodgers Ampwera, Executive Director Naguru Teenage Centre, one of the successful stand-alone adolescent health centers in Kampala says they sought partnerships with the government but have so far not signed any memorandum of understanding with them.
Even KCCA which has housed the centre for close to a decade has not signed an MoU with them and he fears that once donors pull out, they may not be able to sustain themselves even as they have reached more than eleven million young people with their services.