Women refugees in Kampala embrace sexual and reproductive health services

UGANDA – Urban women and refugees in Kampala have had continuous access to sexual reproductive health (SHR) services thanks to trained peer educators.

According to Namukwana Rhoda, Branch In-charge of Reproductive Health Unit (RHU) Bwaise in 2021, several outreaches (56) have been carried out within urban refugee settlements.

SRH services and information were provided to community members during these activities, and they asked that peer educators continue to raise health awareness.

As a result, our peer educators have resorted to transporting all identified clients with reproductive health (RH) issues to the RHU Bwaise clinic for assistance.

Nkoronyi Sifa, a trained peer educator, assisted 25 clients, two of whom had advanced cervical cancer. RHU provided care, medical treatment, and referrals to other clients experiencing SRH issues as part of the Danish government-funded addressing the sexual and reproductive health and rights needs of vulnerable populations program.

One of the refugee women’s leaders has questioned RHU care providers about the prevalence of fibroids and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among refugee women.

It is still unknown what causes fibroids. Their development could be linked to the individual’s estrogen levels.

Estrogen and progesterone levels are higher during a person’s reproductive years. Fibroids swell when estrogen levels are high, especially during pregnancy.

Fibroid shrinkage is associated with low estrogen levels. This can happen both during and after menopause.

It can also happen if you take certain medications, such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists or antagonists.

Fibroid development may also be influenced by genetic factors. Having a close relative with fibroids, for example, is linked to an increased risk of developing them oneself.

According to Wanene Rachael, a Bwaise branch Health Service Provider who followed up on these clients, it is critical to provide SRH information to peer educators in order to eliminate community delays in accessing health services and to have timely referrals for better health outcomes.

RHU has served 1300 urban refugees who came to its Bwaise clinic for various sexual reproductive health and rights services between now and 2021.

According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), there are 80,000 urban refugees in Uganda, out of a total of 1.4 million refugees.

Collaboration in service delivery and the inclusion of community peers can aid in the reduction of SRH-related difficulties.

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