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Empowering Youth to live the Good Life

The International Youth Day walk in Arua earlier today.

Every year on August 12th the world celebrates the International Youth Day. It’s a day to celebrate young people’s views and initiatives. This year’s theme “The road to 2030: Eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable production and consumption” focuses on the role of young people in ensuring poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development through sustainable production and consumption.

Increasing resource efficiency and moving toward sustainable production can contribute significantly to meeting the basic needs of all people, including youth. Investing in sustainable production also creates new markets and employment opportunities.

In Uganda one in four girls aged between 15 and 19 is either pregnant or has born children. 14% of young women and 16% of young men had their first sexual encounter before the age of 15. Young people begin sex early and yet only 11% of teenagers aged 15 to 19 years use family planning methods resulting in unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions. The Population Secretariat indicates that of the 1.2 million pregnancies recorded in Uganda annually, 25% of these are among teenagers. Many young men and women face barriers such as high prices of goods and services and a lack of information about the available choices.

At UHMG, we work toward a Uganda where the youth and communities are empowered to protect and improve their health. Youth are meant to breathe new energy, creativity and dynamism to our labour markets, schools, universities and government entities. This is why Uganda Health Marketing Group through the USAID/Uganda social marketing activity (SMA) is running a one month campaign on sensitising the youth about their sexual and reproductive health and the need to make healthy life choices.

Its main aim is to remind youth especially those who are sexually active on the importance of family planning, busting myths and misconceptions and visiting a health facility to talk to a health provider about the various sexual and reproductive health services including family planning. However, deliberate efforts will be made to encourage abstinence since it is the best way to avoid unintended pregnancies, STIs and HIV.

A society that cuts off from its youth severs its lifeline. Youth Day thus presents an opportunity for every country to assess their commitment to youth. We have the power to pave the way and help the young make the most of their youth.

Happy Youth Day.

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