By Gladys Achen
Reproductive Health Uganda’s (RHU) Dr. Steven Baguma, talks in soothing tones to his 38-year-old patient as he prepares her for a bilateral tubal litigation procedure.
“This is the numbing medicine, so you’re going to feel me touch you here,” he says, touching the woman’s abdomen while injecting to paralyze the area to be operated. “Little stick, one, two three, ouch. And then a little bit of burn.”
38 – year – old Night Atenyu, is one of the 21 women in Amuru, district who preferred a bilateral tubal litigation procedure at Atiak Health Centre IV and Labongogali Health Centre II.
Atenyu, made the decision voluntarily after a discussion and counselling with her husband Robert Akera, from Pachiru village in Lugaya sub county. The couple together have seven children, two of which were born through difficulty.
“on the fifth and sixth pregnancy, I had the children born with my uterus coming out. I felt a lot of pain and medical personnel had to treat me in a special way. That is why we decided to have a permanent family planning method” Atenyu says.
A total of 21 out of 200 women have undergone bilateral tubal litigation (female sterilization) amidst strict observance of COVID 19 guidelines in Amuru district in the last three days.
Dr. Steven Baguma, explains that female sterilization is a small operation that closes the tubes that carry the egg from the ovary to the womb (uterus), to prevent the sperm and egg from meeting.
“the irreversible family planning method is preferred by couples who have had children and wish to concentrate about their children’s up bringing and work at home” Dr. Baguma says.
Besides some other women preferred the method owing to its single, one-time procedure compared to periodical injectable family planning and contraceptives.
Mercy Ajero, 24 has four children, but does not want to continue conceiving and giving birth to more children. She has tried implants, but now turned up to Labongogali Health Centre II, to have a Bilateral tubal litigation operation.
“I have talked to fellow women who have been sterilized and they feel much better than those opting to use implants. The sterilization is done once in a lifetime” Ajero says.
The free Family Planning and sexual reproductive health rights (SRHR) pilot camps conducted at Atiak Health Centre IV and Labongogali Health Centre II in Amuru district is organized by Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU), with support from United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA).
Demeter Margret Namuyobo, Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU) medical coordinator says that after a successful pilot camps in Amuru district, more districts in various regions of Uganda are going to benefit from the free Family Planning services, under strict COVID 19 guidelines.
“the pilot Family Planning and sexual reproductive health rights camps in Amuru are successful because we are working with the district COVID task force, Village health teams, local and cultural leaders to mobilize the people” Namuyobo says.
Dr. Patrick Odong, Amuru district Health Officer believes the Family Planning camps are timely following as rise in cases of teenage pregnancies and unwanted pregnancies during the COVID 19 pandemic.
“this is a rural district facing challenges of shop keepers, boda bodas and idle teachers, who lure young girls and women into unprotected sex while promising them food, money and lotions. They end up getting pregnant and dropping out of school” Dr Odong says.
Anicia Filda, In – Charge Gulu RHU Branch says in 2020 alone, Amuru registered 620 reported teenage pregnancies, but Dr. Odong says the statistics may increase after an ongoing research by Human Rights Focus and Amuru district in collaboration with Civil Society Organizations.