Health workers have been challenged to handle adolescents and the youth who seek their services with much care especially because they are still young.
This call was made by Norah Nakate, a sex and reproductive health trainer, during a training for health workers on how to handle adolescents and youth who need reproductive health services. Nakate was a Senior Principal Nursing Officer at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital by December 2022 when she retired. She is a public health specialist and a tutor at the Public Health Nursing College in Kyambogo, Kampala City.
“The way you handle an adolescent mother for example is not the way you handle a 30-year-old. Don’t just discharge them. You need to counsel them. They are still in the transition, from childhood to adulthood. They are undergoing significant physical, psychological, and biological changes,” Nakate said.
Nakate facilitates the training of health service providers
The training held on March 16, 2023, at Gulu University, follows concerns revealed by researchers of BSU’s CONSCOV project that many young people are shunning health facilities because of the way they are handled by some health workers there.
It was attended by staff of Gulu Regional Referral Hospital, Reproductive Health Uganda, and some researchers from Gulu University.
The CONSCOV project is seeking to establish the impact of COVID-19 on adolescent and youth reproductive health in northern Uganda.
Nakate said that reproductive health means that people should have a satisfying and safe sex life, with the capability to reproduce. She urged the health service providers to give appropriate advice and care to adolescents and the youth on issues of sex and reproductive health.
Dr. Agatha Alidri, the BSU Coordinator and Principal Investigator (PI) of CONSCOV, urged the participants to pay particular attention to categories of adolescents and youth she referred to as “socially excluded”, giving the Aagu, a young floating population in Gulu City, as an example.
“We have criminalised these people. We have socially excluded them. We have forgotten that these people were part of us and are supposed to be part of us. These socially excluded people have very serious reproductive health issues,” Dr. Alidri said.