Advocating for Integrated Population, Health And Environment Approaches in Uganda

By Joseph Byonanebye, MPH
September 6, 2011

Martin Ninsiima a communications expert sharing spitfire strategy with Joseph Byonanebye in the PHE advocacy workshop

As public health graduate of the prestigious St. George’s University, it is so exciting for me to use the skills obtained from the MPH program to actively advocate for an integrated population, health and environment approach. This is part of public health promotion in Uganda, a country whose population growth rate is at about 3.3% that is likely to exert pressure on natural resources, promote a conducive environment for disease spread and have an impact social economic status.

As a Program Officer, Community Health for Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), a Ugandan Non Governmental Organization registered charity in the US involves bringing together different organizations that form a Uganda Population Health and Environment Working Group to promote PHE approach. It was for this same purpose that on June 8, 2011, CTPH organized an advocacy strategy development workshop for PHE stakeholders in Uganda. The one-day workshop was conceived as a follow up to the PHE advocacy workshop held in November 2010. The workshop was aimed at developing an advocacy strategy for Population, Health and Environment (PHE) in Uganda. Using the spitfire strategy and the smart chat, it was possible to develop strategies to advance PHE in Uganda.  A lot more needs to be done to implement the strategy.  PHE integration is increasingly being recognized as a viable option in sustainable development to more effectively meet the integrated needs of communities, particularly in remote and rural areas. Although there is considerable agreement that integrated PHE programs can improve population, health and environment indicators, there is still limited uptake of PHE approaches by key stakeholders in Uganda.  Mr. Jason Bremner, an expert in PHE and working with Population Reference Bureau (PRB)  explained that an integrated PHE approach aims to improve the quality of life by improving natural resource management, promoting sustainable livelihoods, and meeting priority health needs which include family planning/reproductive health.  This is key in Uganda and many other parts of Africa.

I feel that whereas Africa is endowed by nature, the sure way to conserve the gifts of this continent is by used approaches that interest the communities, cost effective and call for action. One of these ways I suggest is an integrated PHE. For example, in expressing to local communities the importance of conserving Africa’s wildlife, communities tend to accept approaches that include health promotion and an inclusion of family planning since this approach makes it easy for communities to perceive benefits. Health education messages given to audiences together with environment saves on the money spent. Once accepted, this is a cost effective way of health and environmental promotion. From the June 8th workshop, it was shared that the PHE interventions can include the integration of the following aspects; awareness creation, food security, water and sanitation, family planning, livelihoods, land productivity, watershed restoration, microfinance , women empowerment and climate change activities. Africa’s environment can be saved through managing its population and health.

 

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