Reproductive health on the other hand is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity relating to the reproductive processes, system and its functions. This implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so.
UNASO is an umbrella organisation that provides a platform for advocacy, coordination, networking, resource mobilization, capacity building and information sharing among civil society AIDS service organizations to improve on the effectiveness, efficiency and quality of service delivery in Uganda.
According to her Strategic plan 2012/13-2016/17 UNASO is committed to institutionalization of SRHR in HIV programming among ASOs. Strengthening capacity of ASOs to advocate for promotion and protection of SRHR is a key result area of the UNASO strategic plan.
From lessons learnt during the last 18 years of UNASO’s work, sexually transmitted infections increase the risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV as most HIV infections are sexually transmitted or are associated with pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. Lack of sexual and reproductive wellbeing and HIV therefore share root causes and as such HIV&AIDS and SRHR interventions cannot be handled independently.
Linking HIV and SRHR refers to joint work in these two sectors at various levels, including policy, advocacy, programming and operations. Integration of HIV and SRHR must go beyond integrating services and programmes to include explicit attention to rights and the structural issues that make people vulnerable to HIV and threaten their sexual and reproductive wellbeing.
Despite high-level political commitment to integrate SRHR into HIV&AIDS however, challenges remain especially because people do not receive comprehensive high-quality services since policies are not being translated into practice. Yet, when done correctly, integration allows for best use of limited health resources and can improve health service delivery. Successful linking requires good base programmes into which additional services should be integrated and for integration to work, we need to have the right people on board.
Against this background, UNASO with support from Stop AIDS Now has had two members of secretariat staff trained as Master Trainers in Evidence & Rights based SRHR and HIV prevention Intervention.
The two members have in turn embarked on training of ASOs within the UNASO network and also other CSOs in the region. The training aims to support organizations to improve the quality of HIV prevention programmes and reproductive health rights (SRHR) education for youth by helping them work towards Evidence- and Rights-Based Sexual Reproductive Health Education and HIV Prevention.
In the last one year, 17 CSOs in Uganda have benefited from these trainings after which they developed plans of action for improvement of their programs.
The training was piloted in two organizations (Nurture Africa and Feed the Children Uganda) and using the results from these two it has been replicated in the other 15 ASOs. The major areas of improvement reported include: involvement of all stakeholders at different project levels, improved SRHR communication with young people, carrying out needs assessment to inform intervention design from informed and not presumed position and measuring effects at outcome level. CSOs report improvement in effectiveness as a result of implementation of these plans of action.
Other countries that have benefited from UNASO support include; Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, South Africa Ghana, and Senegal.
Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist