The Uganda Demographic and Health Survey of 2011 estimated the Contraceptive Prevalence Rate to be 30%, the unmet need for Family Planning to be 34%, and the Total Fertility rate to be 6.2 in Uganda. This means that only 30% of women of reproductive age are using contraceptives while another 34% would wish to use contraceptives but they are not using them for various reasons. The immediate result of this is a high fertility rate such that a woman in Uganda will have on average 6.2 children in her life time.
In the international Family Planning Conference held on July 28-30 in Uganda, the President of Uganda noted that Family Planning was good for the health of mothers and the children and for the Family welfare because it saves wealth. We also know that lack of access to Family Planning commodities and services leads to unwanted pregnancies including teenage pregnancies which are likely to lead to unsafe abortions which increases the Maternal Mortality Rate. It is also a fact that children born out of unplanned pregnancies are bound to be disadvantaged because their parents are not prepared for them. Such children face a higher chance of child deaths hence increasing the Child Mortality rate in Uganda. If the children survive child deaths, their parents often lack resources to afford them the best Education and chances in life. Their skill set is therefore limited and they in turn limit the chances of Uganda benefiting from the demographic divided window that we now have. Family Planning and Reproductive Health should therefore be the cornerstone of any sustainable socio-economic development agenda.
Occurrence of side effects is mentioned as a major hindrance to consistent use of Family Planning in Uganda. In recognition of this challenge, the Uganda Ministry of Health published a pocket guide on managing common side effects in Family Planning users. The guide refers to side effects as unwanted reactions which may occur due to use of a Family Planning method. According to the guide, different family planning methods will have different side effects but in most cases, these normally subside after a few months. Not all users of a particular method will experience side effects. Clients that do not follow proper instructions for use of modern contraceptives can make some side effects worse and also make the contraceptive ineffective.
According to the guide, concerns about side effects affect women’s satisfaction and use of modern contraception. Therefore, if the client reports side effects, the provider must listen to her concerns, give her advice and if appropriate, treat. In addition to ensuring that pregnant clients are not started on Family Planning methods (except condoms), counseling about side effects is the most important help clients need to continue using any method. It is also important to rule out pregnancy and abortion in clients who complain about side effects since none of the Family Planning methods offers 100 % protection against pregnancy yet therapeutic actions of some hormonal Family Planning methods mimic pregnancy. Appropriately managing side effects will therefore improve on use of contraceptives in Uganda.