Some of the VHTs taking part in the Action Plan making exercise during a workshop on Policy Advocacy in Bamunanika Sub County, Luwero district.
VHTs from three Sub Counties in Luwero District took part in a two-day workshop where they were empowered with skills to advocate for adolescent girls and young women by Public Health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU).
This workshop was conducted under the auspices of the Partnership to Inspire, Transform and Connect the HIV Response (PITCH) project being implement by PHAU with support from International HIV/AIDS Alliance (IHAA).
A group discussion during the VHTs’ policy advocacy workshop in Luwero district recently.
It was conducted at Bamunanika Sub County Headquarters and it featured VHTs from Kamira, Bamunanika and Kalagala Sub Counties. These were taken through various stages of advocacy among which included issue identification, setting objectives and targets, resource mobilization among others. All this was meant to get them to understand the role they have to play in their communities when it comes to promoting sexual reproductive health and rights as well as combating gender based violence among adolescent girls and young women.
The training generally looked at the development system of Uganda as a country and getting to understand the different levels at which the community can participate. “The gist of this training was mainly to ensure that people understand that they have ability and opportunities to utilize the spaces to voice out their issues especially those affecting adolescent girls and young women.” Said Simon Ddembe, the facilitator at the training. “We think if they use the knowledge given to them they’ll cascade this to their communities which will help steering the strategic direction of health in our country.” He added on.
A photo moment of VHT members after the workshop.
Ddembe also emphasized the need for the participants to harness the culture of documentation especially when it comes to policy advocacy. “Advocacy is largely evidence based. He said. “As they say whatever is not documented did not happen”, Simon added on.
Participants sited out various challenges the people they serve face among which included long distances to health centers, domestic violence, and inadequate resources among others which frustrate their access to SRHR services in the communities where they live.
VHT members attending the policy advocacy workshop in Luwero recently.
“Through this training I have realized how adolescent girls and young women have really been left behind and as a man I now appreciate the importance of advocating for their health rights”. Said Lukoya Charles, a VHT from Kalagala sub county. Men were well represented at the training and actively got involved in the formulation of the action plan.
Nalwanga Allen, a fairly youthful lady and a VHT from Bamumanika Sub County expressed concern about the confusion faced by adolescent girls when they are raped. “They usually do not know what to do but now that I have got these skills I’m going to reach out and help them, PHAU has indeed helped us with this training.”
The PITCH project is meant to increase demand for and access to SRHR services among adolescent girls and young women through use of various avenues like VHTs that are empowered as advocates to participate in local and national policy making to ensure that integrated SRHR services and HIV care, treatment and prevention services are available to them when need arises. The project is currently being implemented in Luwero district in collaboration with the district health team with support from CHAU.