As you might be aware, July 28th 2014 from 14:38-1517pm (Brian’s Time) saw Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin-UNFPA Executive Director, Hon. Sarah Opendi – State Minister for Primary Health Care and Dr. Jotham Musinguzi Regional Director, Partners in Population and Development hold a live interaction with nearly 89 young people from different corners of Uganda at the sidelines of the National Family Planning Conference- Serena Hotel. Ofcourse, the discussion didn’t focus on ‘Whats up?, How are you doing? Mum’s doing fine? Is your cat (careful feminists) sick? But rather an active and impact focused discussion on how to make sexual reproductive health, rights and services a living hell of a movie for young people in Uganda.
And we werent dissappointed! Neither was he I guess! You might need to ask him
Like the World Youth Conference in Colombo, Uganda’s young population showed why JayZ should retire, with incredibly creative rap songs on Family Planning! Boy, I just wanted to get Eminem on phone and be like, ‘Dude, ya can recommend me for an Msc. in Rap at Eminem-School of Rap?’ I assume, that’s the bug that caught Msr Museveni when he raped (plagiarised) ‘Mp’enkoni Rap’ hehehe! Insightful and clear messages were wrapped in those rap songs, and how good it all looked! Didn’t I mention it was stream lined by NTV Uganda? Needless to day, Twitter madness couldn’t be managed by the psychiatry department of social media university whose delegates and representatives of media houses were glued onto their already expensive gadgets! Thank the Internet, where would we be without ya!
I wont write about the whole experience, but I’d like to focus on my personal motivation to attend this event and meet Dr Babatunde: So, I wasted no time when opportunity showed up to have a one –on-one. And booooom, there I was:
Me: Mr Babatunde, Dr. Babatunde, to be precise, only 3 minutes of your most valued time to the #NextWHODirectorGeneral
Him: (Looking up”) Who? Sorry? Oh, yes, for sure
Me: What are the top 3 questions you ask yourself very often
Him: (Thinking and responding in a typical franglais). You said, you work for which media house?
Me: Nope, none Dr.
Him: Ah, good questions young man! I ask my self whether young people understand the passion we have to end this epidemic. I ask myself, how we can do more with our decision makers and relgious leaders’. Also, you know, I ask myself whether this epidemic will be eliminated during my existence.
Synopisis: Okies…So, clearly, as a public bastard, I envisaged that what really makes Dr Babatunde the man he is, is the PASSION, CALL FOR PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS FOR HEALTH, as well as INNATE FOCUS ON IMPACT EVALUATION! Smiling from within… I continued
Me: We always get a lot of statisitics: But, what is the leading cause of death, u=in your view fro young people aged less than 30 years?
Him: (Laughs). Did you get that from somewhere? Well, the leading cause of death amongst young people in the world is actually Road Traffic Crashes! But that doesn’t mean that we are doing the wrong job! With Uganda’s Marternal Mortality rates at 450/100,000, is something not to play around with. Our girls are dropping out of school, we are marrying them off early too in the name of culture and religion. Yet we continue to call that Marriage? What type of marriage is that? Brazil and Italy-one of the most catholic countries in the world have the most youth-focused policies on family planning! But again, we need to strike a balance to save lives of young people all over the world.
Okies, for me, it became clear, that, STRATEGISING INCREASES ATTENTION AND FUNDING despite the burden of the problem.
While Road Traffic Crashes in Uganda claim 3340 people annually and 3300 people every day world wide with more than half of those being young people aged 15-30 years, WHO and other partners will need to streamline and support local initiatives rather than holding awareness conferences. Dr. Babatunde challanged every one in the conference when he asked all delegates to atleast share SRH information they had learnt in the meeting to 5 other young girls and boys in the local communities:-that was peer education, which I hate to say, hasn’t been embraced in other vital public health fields like injuries, disabilities and violence prevention.
Shall we do more? Certainly we know what to do, but we haven’t made the bloody necessary first step!
Till next time,