The Ugandan Society today is characterized of many families headed by children. These children are unable even to cater for themselves and are struggling a lot to survive on their own. And as a result , most of these children due to lack of Parental Care and Guidance often find Refugee on the streets of Kampala and other Towns where they are assured of eating on the leftovers thrown on the Dustbins. Others are always seen begging and pick pocketing to survive. It is on these streets that these children learn all sorts of bad habits, such as smoking, using illegal drugs, sniffing petrol, using vulgar language and so many other drugs related crimes. And as they grow up, some of them normally turn into hard core criminals ending up in Prisons where they again learn more crime tactics from fellow prisoners.
In most cases young children dropout of school prematurely or never go to school at all.
Because their mothers’ grandparents, guardians or fellow children cannot afford their scholastic materials and feeding, later alone school fees. HIV/AIDS has killed the energetic and active people of the society leaving the weak and less active i.e. the grand parents and children at the hands of God’s mercy.
As a result of lack of parental up bringing care and guidance many children who have not disappeared to the streets have always become victims of child labor to survive.
These children are employed in people’s homes as house keepers in factories, farms etc.
Where they are mistreated by their employers, sexually harassed especially in the case of girls and most times they are played peanuts and at times no payments at all besides being subjected to heavy work which is far beyond their age, insults, heavy punishment, rocking them in houses are all kinds of mistreatment that these children who decide to choose a good path unfortunately have to go through in their lives while other children are always seen in markets carrying heavy loads of merchandise, Hawking on the streets, fetching water transporting people and goods on bicycles etc.
It is even more horrible when it comes to girls. After losing their parents these girls become targets of sexual abuse by both young and old men. Some old enough to be their grand parents. Others are sexually abused by their own relatives and guardians under their care. Others are married off by their relatives. Some times to old men who in most cases have more than one wife or those who lost their wives to AIDS and other causes. Most of them end up catching HIV/AIDS while others become victims of mistreatment by these men, since they have no parents to turn to, or fight on their behalf. The love to care for their young ones and lack of basic necessities forces many into prostitution at a tender age hence acquiring the AIDS Virus and unwanted pregnancies and kids. Many girls have lost their lives while trying to abort while others have delivered and thrown away their babies and majority of them have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS.
These kinds of problems and many more others have left so many parentless children traumatized and hopeless.
Poverty & unemployment
Due to a huge influx of people from the villages there is an increase in the number of unemployed people. This has mainly affected the women and children because most men out of frustration tend to run away from responsibility. The agricultural sector which employs the biggest percentage of Ugandan population has been neglected by Government.
It is mainly the poor people in this sector yet they cannot afford better and modern farming techniques such as mechanized farming, irrigation methods, use of fertilizers etc. People are still using the hoe as the main tool of cultivation. This is so tiresome given the fact that not a big portion of land can be cultivated even after months of hard labor and hence low yields. The food therefore got from this type of farming is not enough even for consumption yet they need to sale some for other necessities. The little food available usually does not constitute a balanced diet, a situation that causes severe malnutrition and stunted growth problems in young children.
This forces many people especially the youth into Kampala and other towns in search for light employment which they never even get. There are not enough industries because most goods are manufactured out of the country including small items. Lack of employment has led to increased crimes, fighting’s and family break up. Cases of crimes and family break up are always visible in Newspapers every day.
Health and Sanitation
Uganda is one of the few countries with the highest rate of maternal mortality and infant mortality in the world.
According to World Health Organisation (W.H.O) maternal mortality in Uganda is estimated to be about 1.200 per 100,000. The implications for such a high maternal mortality are profound.
Maternal mortality rate is the only accurate indicator of how good or bad a National Health System is together with infant mortality, it accurately captures the real level of National Development, which is reflected in people’s welfare.
Uganda’s Health System which cannot provide basic services consistently and predictably is in shambles; up to 60% of positions in referral Hospitals are vacant. Most Rural Health Units which are the first and often final contracts between expectant mothers and the National Health System are manned by untrained or hurriedly trained personnel – Nursing Aides and Nursing Assistants.
Only 4% of these Health Units have the required equipments and supplies and can perform all the essential obstetric emergency functions.
Studies have consistently revealed the real issues surrounding maternal mortality. First, they reveal its huge size and urgency as a national emergency maternal mortality is the only indicator that has not changed over the past 30 years in Uganda. Uganda’s Health System has failed as a result of underfunding and mismanagement to provide the Health Units. Studies have identified three key causes of Maternal Deaths; Bleeding, Obstructed Labor and Infection. All conditions a amenable to good and responsive Health System. Uganda’s Health System has been found to be inaccessible to most mothers by being too far and too expensive to most of Ugandan. It is also of poor quality and ineffective. In addition nearly 70% of mothers who die of child-birth are teenagers and to a less extent women over 40.
There is therefore need to put measures in place to reduce on teenage pregnancy. Such as making all girls go to school and remain there by law.
Secondly there is need to put laws in place prohibiting under age marriages and sensitize the community about the dangers of early marriages. The economic consequences of maternal death are severe.
In Uganda to day maternal death cause a loss of productivity of over US& 150 Million annually. And for every mother who dies, three infants also die, four other children are rendered vulnerable, and 35 other mothers who survive child-birth are disabled.
The Government’s own policy Strategy Document, the Poverty Eradication Plan (PEAP) concedes on page 222 that progress will not be made in reducing maternal mortality by 2015; because this involves costly medical intervention which the Government cannot afford to fund.
To tackle high maternal mortality in Uganda, there is need to focus on reducing Teenage Pregnancy drop-out of girls from school. Introduction of obstetric care facilities in health units and limitation or reduction of women’s fertility and family size. Other causes of maternal deaths are illiteracy, Polygamous relationships and large households.
Clearly, the huge maternal health problems coupled with such a dysfunctional Health system make it a National emergency yet there is no possible solution to at least reduce on this problem. Uganda’s remarkable economic progress has been precisely at the expense of social welfare. There is no medicine in the Hospitals even in the major Hospitals. This leaves the few Medical Staff, the Doctors and Nurses, like Consultants who only examine patients and prescribe medicine for them. Yet most Ugandans have no money to purchase the prescribed drugs in private drug shops while for complicated diseases like Liver, Lungs, Heart diseases e.t.c. the people always have no hope at all in Ugandan Hospitals, because there are absolutely no facilities for such. The few rich ones are always flown out of the country for treatment. This leaves the majority poor ones in utter despair.
HIV/AIDS is also among the most serious Health problems with cases doubting every 12 months close to 2.5 million Adults are infected with HIV/AIDS Virus. Every family in Uganda has lost someone to HIV/AIDS since 1984. And this has an adverse effect on the economic and social welfare to the Ugandan Society. Women and girls are more affected since they are the most vulnerable group. About three million children are orphaned with girls cases out numbering by six times the cases among boys. This is so because most girls are involved in sexual activities at an early age most times against their will. 70 percent of mothers in Uganda are teenagers, making them more Vulnerable.
In Uganda women have no control over reproduction and sexuality. This therefore requires much more effort, through more sensitization in the Ugandan communities. These girls need to be in school because then, they will be able to acquire the necessary information which will help them.
Malaria is also another serious killer with so many deaths every other time. Most places are bushy and water logged. These become breeding places for mosquitoes yet most families because of poverty cannot afford mosquito nets, treatments and other preventive measures, most families cannot afford treatment especially those that have no parents to take care of their welfare and therefore they just watch their patients die in despair. Poor Hygiene and Sanitation inKampala and other areas are equally playing a big part in the spreading of diseases and other unhealthy conditions. Due to the high price of land in the city and towns, people buy tiny plots and use every square inch to build the shelter over their heads forgetting they need space for compound, garbage and sewerage disposal. More to that , there is often no space for latrines forcing the residents to dispose off human waste and other unwanted house hold items into uncovered water channels next door. This puts the lives of the residents at a great health catastrophe especially the young children who often play in these areas. Where the latrines are build, there are so close to homes & eating places due to lack of space.
It is more dangerous during the rainy season when sewer water seeps into roads and other homes. And as a result, there has always been constant out breaks of cholera and other sanitary related diseases, other homes are constructed in mosquito infected places. Such as wetland places, Bushy areas and water logged areas, while in other areas mosquitoes are as a result of unkept hips of garbage and uncovered water channels. These places are breeding places for not only mosquitoes, but also other harmful germs.
Lack of proper nutrition is also another by problem responsible for unhealthy conditions to the people of Kampala and elsewhere in Uganda. Most homes cannot afford a balanced others have no information on what to eat to be health. This affects mostly the children who are malnourished leading to stunted growth and several diseases and eventually death.