By Allan Katamba and Njeri Mbugua

Allan Katamba (second from right) meets with Kampala City health officials about the Challenge Initiative.

Kampala, Uganda – When the Challenge Initiative launched in March 2017 in Kenya, the Ugandan Minister of State for Health, Hon. Sarah Opendi, in her remarks promised that at least 10 districts from Uganda would soon apply to become part of the Initiative. True to her word, Kampala City has jumped on the bandwagon and expressed interest in working with the Initiative. Not only does this showcase unprecedented government commitment for family planning, but also, demonstrates a development priority aimed at empowering more women and girls to reach to their full potential.

Based at the Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, the Initiative is funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented by Jhpiego in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) where it is scaling up family planning services to reach more women.

“The Initiative brings the strategies we need to reach the marginalized urban women and girls, and for that reason, we need to invest in activities that will increase access of services to them. And knowledge is power: we need to provide girls, women and their partners with the information they need to make informed decisions,” said Dr. Daniel Okello the Assistant Public Health Officer in Kampala during the meeting with Allan Katamba, the Initiative’s Uganda lead.

Kampala city is one of Uganda’s fastest growing urban areas; the population grew from 1,189,142 in 2002 to 1,507,080 in 2014 according to the Uganda Demographic Survey. A Ugandan woman will have an average of six to seven children in her lifetime. This poses a serious health risk to her and her children, and has financial implications as well.

“When couples manage their own fertility, they can better plan to care for their family by investing their resources in education, health, savings, and business opportunities. This is how we can end the cycle of poverty,” said Dr. David Serukka, Kampala City’s Principal Public Health Officer.