Ugandan Legislators, led by Deputy Speaker of the August House Mr. Thomas Tayebwa, have strongly criticized a recent proposal by Health Ministry officials to introduce birth control methods for girls aged 15 and above. Lawmakers from across the political spectrum have labeled the initiative as “devilish” and expressed concerns that it could negatively impact young girls who represent the nation’s future. Amuru MP Lucy Akello raised the matter as an issue of national importance during a parliamentary session. In response, Deputy Speaker Tayebwa, supported by his colleagues, expressed serious reservations about the planned government policy. He argued that it might unintentionally normalize sexual exploitation and carry significant health risks for young girls. Mr. Tayebwa stated, “The devil should not find a way, and such thoughts should never come to the minds of our people because it is giving up. That is formalizing defilement.” His remarks come after the front-page story titled “Girls to get birth control from age 15 in the new plan” was published in a Local News Paper.
Ms. Akello voiced her concerns over the proposed policy, noting that it appeared to lower the age limit for accessing contraceptives from 18 to 15 years. She questioned the motives behind this shift and raised concerns about the potential health risks associated with contraceptives for young girls. “Have you done a study to find out the implications of contraceptives among young girls who have not given birth? Even me who has given birth, I fear those things. How about young girls? Yes, I fear [the contraceptives] and I don’t use them. I use the natural method; the one God gave me. Can you assure us that our children are safe with this policy?” Ms. Akello asked.
In response to the lawmakers’ concerns, the State Minister for Primary Healthcare, Ms. Margaret Muhanga, communicated that she had spoken with Dr. Charles Olaro, the director for curative services at the Health Ministry, who clarified that the proposal was not yet an approved policy. Dr. Olaro had suggested the idea to solicit opinions in light of the alarming rate of teenage pregnancies and child marriages.
Mr. Tayebwa maintained his opposition to the proposal, emphasizing that such a policy should not be implemented. He stated, “That is clearly saying we have failed. I really pray, Honorable minister, that we would rather strengthen and ensure that we continue monitoring to fight this vice than legitimizing it and giving such services. I am glad it is not yet a policy.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government and the United Nations Population Fund estimated that up to 32,000 teenagers eloped every month, particularly during the years 2020 and 2021 when students spent extended periods at home due to pandemic-related disruptions.