Sexual Reproduction Health experts want adolescents taught self-coping mechanisms during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unlike the first wave where Covid-19 infection among young people was low, the second wave has registered a 12% increase in infections among ages 10-19 years. Last month after the President ordered the closure of schools, Gulu University Laboratory conducted rapid COVID-19 tests and 47 students tested positive.
According to Dr Edith Nakku Joloba, Clinical Epidemiologist and researcher in sexual reproductive health, there should be efforts put in place to help children infected with covid-19 and those grieving the loss of their parents or guardians.
She adds that such effects from the Covid-19 situation can trigger drug addiction rates, sexual exploitation, and child-labour and criminal activity.
According to the World Health Organization-WHO, globally, 10–20% of adolescents suffer from mental health conditions mainly resulting from poor resilience and coping mechanisms during difficult situations.
Hillary Nuwamanya, a peer educator living with HIV has developed a self-coping mechanism with a group of friends with whom they ride bicycles around Kampala distributing ARVs to colleagues.
Annet Kyarimpa from Reproductive Health Uganda-RHU says young people should engage in activities like skilling, online learning and peer to peer education which can give them a sense of success despite delayed reopening of schools.
She says, “I have seen young a young boy write a book in this season and publish, such support produces productivity in lockdown.”
Dr Dinah Nakiganda from the Ministry of Health notes that learning from the previous lockdown, a committee has been established to focus on developing messages that are relevant to young people when schools are closed.
She notes that just like during the past lockdown, they have continued to lobby for a representative of the youth on the Covid-19 district task forces.