Religious leaders to galvanise about Health Challenges of Adolescents at Inter- Faith Dialogue

By our reporter

KAMPALA– There has usually been a disconnect or missing link between faith leaders and various partners regarding health challenges of adolescents and youth in Uganda.

In the wake to work together and address the situation at hand, Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) Alliance Uganda together with other partners organised an inter – faith dialogue under the theme “strengthening faith – based health actions for young people”.

The high quality dialogue for the central region that was held on Thursday, August 26 , at Golf Course Hotel was organised in partnership with Reach A hand Uganda (RAHU), Population Service International (PSI) , Naguru Teenage Centre, Marie Stopes Uganda, UNESCO in close collaboration with Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education and Sports.

The Minister of State for Education and Sports (Primary Education) Hon. Dr. Joyce Moriku Kaducu said that they had a great day because the topics and direction were really good for them and were happy that the spiritual leaders were there to give a way forward.

“This has brought all people on board and has come at time when we are battling COVID- 19 especially since it has not spared the younger people and for that matter that is the way to go. You all know it has disrupted learning and made the community a learning place and this has caused alot of negative impact. The formal education is no longer the same because parents are busy and that has resulted into teenage pregnancies, domestic violence, family taboo, child labor, sexual abuse, drug addiction among others” said Hon. Dr. Kaducu.

Hon.Dr.Joyce Moriku Kaducu, Minister of State of Education and Sports ( Primary Education ) addressing the audience at the dialogue
Kaducu says, COVID exposed that some families are not safe and protective places than schools which has resulted into many problems and that they were gathered to forge a way for their children as the Ministry of Education and Sports remains committed to providing quality education in partnership with other line ministries and vaccination should be embraced.

“We need parents and families to have norms, intergrity, religous, plan for their future, strike for discipline, love, play as role models, involve them in decision making, empowering them, provide them with appropriate information relative to their ages. This is a call upon to all political leaders and rest to have policies to engage them, globalisation is the new way of doing things with no road blocks , so let them embrace it but off course positively without engaging in pornography, drugs and alcohol” Dr. Kaducu added.

As a National Coordinator at SRHR , Charles Owekmeno highlighted that the issue of the youth is a big thing to our country and we need to have all stakeholders on board inorder to leave a legacy behind for this country.

“Where do all these children go? because most them don’t reach far and the percentage is minimal at higher institutions. We are aware that the religious leaders are key in all these and ready to spread this to other regions that include Mbarara and Arua with action as the next move.

The young children need you religous leaders because some of them have challenges at their homes so your presence is a good thing for them”. Owekmeno said.

Dr. Dinah Nakiganda, Assistant Commissioner Adolescents Health, Ministry of Health emphasized that our population is a young one and over 70 percent are the youth which means they are the ones incharge of the future.

She pointed out that COVID -19 has changed the way we do things in schools and at work and since the adolescents together with other ages are at home they need to make schools and homes safe environments for the young people due to the fact that the pandemic changes.

“We shall ensure to provide information to the leaders since most of the schools are lead by them through having the right messages of COVID – 19 , vaccination, psycho-social support using other platforms since most places of worship are still closed and we shall continue to engage with them since we can’t work without them” Dr. Nakiganda added.

Rev. Gideon Byamugisha was quick to say that he was glad that government is taking the lead and it looked that they are more religous and skewed than them, adding that it is serious dialogue that takes him to repentence and keeps him thinking whether he has done enough as a leader who is supposed to do his part and leave the rest he can’t handle to God.

Rev.Dr.Paul Kakooza, head church of Uganda directorate of education making his presentation at the dialogue .
Rev. Dr. Paul Kakooza, Head of Church of Uganda Directorate of Education recounted that they are aware that young people make a big proportion of our population and their numbers increase every year, noting that they need to sensitise parents and teachers to form clubs for youth and children in different dioceses on spiritual and social matter like their counterparts such as the Catholics , Adventists with support of the government and other Sexual Reproductive Health Rights Alliance Partners.

Rev . Kakooza retraited that they need to promote religious and cultural values in families so that they can have upright youth that will be able to choose good over evil regardless of the fact that the situation was worsened by the pandemic.

Additionally , Rev. Capt. Gideon Mwesigwa Muhima, youth pastor at All Saints Cathedral Nakasero, strongly said that the biggest challenge among the youth was identity crisis which is through family , church and school.

He explained that the two most important days in life include the birth day and the other one to figure out what we are meant to do on this earth.

“Our belief has to be relatable to our behavior and most times it has been watered down by ” feel good” preaching , setting high standards and also not having a cause. We need to have our preachers grounded in truth and we are supposed to set the situation. We have young people who are in despair and faith in God. They are trying to find their identity in all sorts of other things like social media addiction, pornography, alcohol and drugs among others”. Concluded Rev.Muhima.

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