Leadership Breaks Down Barriers to Health Services in Uganda

Sasha Grenier

Senior Technical Officer

Richard Mugenyi, Public Relations and Communications Officer, Reproductive Health Uganda, contributed to this story, which was originally published in the U.S. Agency for International Development's Frontlines newsletter.

Rita Murungi is a 26-year-old woman from Mbarara, a busy city of 200,000 in western Uganda. She works as a waitress at a restaurant in town and is a regular visitor to a local youth center that hosts daily social events—like team sports and theatrical shows—to provide a safe place for young people ages 15-30 to gather.

A peer educator mobilizes clients for outreach services in Kawempe. (Photo credit: Geoffrey Ddamba) The Mbarara Youth Center has another function as well. It is part of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) affiliate Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU), an NGO committed to providing sexual and reproductive health information and services for vulnerable and at-risk young people.

The problem was that young people like Murungi weren’t accessing these all-too-important services that were quite literally under their noses. Organizers had envisioned a place to empower young people to make informed sexual and reproductive health decisions and break down barriers to contraceptive access, which is used by just 38 percent of sexually active unmarried women in Uganda.

In Uganda, one in every four teenage girls between 15 and 19 is already a mother or pregnant. Children born to adolescent mothers are less likely to make it to their fifth birthday, and face a substantially higher risk of dying than those born to women ages 20-24.

So, in 2014, staff at the Mbarara clinic participated in the Leadership Development Program Plus (LDP+), a hands-on program that allows professionals at all levels of the health system to learn and practice leadership, management and governance skills.

Read the rest of the article and see the impact of the LDP+ training at the Mbarara clinic in the U.S. Agency for International Development's Frontlines newsletter.