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A house call with a difference

A house call with a difference

In Uganda

Of girls aged 15-19,
1 in 4
Teenage mums represent

Teenage pregnancy in Kawempe

Since COVID-19 closed down schools and kept teenagers stuck at home, teenage pregnancy rates have risen rapidly in Uganda. This presents a huge challenge in informal settlement areas like Kawempe, where access to essential health services, sanitation and hygiene systems is already limited.

Teddy Lutaaya lives in Corner Zone, Kawempe. For 10 years she has worked as a Village Health Team member (VHT - a voluntary health worker), helping to inform her community about sanitation, hygiene and important sexual and reproductive health and rights—especially the teenage girls who live in her area. It is sometimes an overwhelming situation, even for Teddy, as she has witnessed and handled difficult and often sensitive situations involving teenage girls.

“We have so many non-school going children including those who were affected by COVID. Some who believe that they are very mature [and don’t need to go to school] and those who [have] give[n] birth think that they can't fit into school anymore.” - Teddy Lutaaya.

Teenage pregnancy in Kawempe


Teenage girls face significant challenges if they get pregnant. They may experience complications during pregnancy and childbirth, social isolation, and be forced to drop out of school, which can have a long-lasting impact on their prospects. Additionally, they encounter financial difficulties as they are less likely to be employed or have the necessary skills or qualifications to secure well-paying jobs.

Caring for an infant presents its own challenges; Kawempe has no formal waste or water management systems, so open drains and waste provide breeding grounds for malarial mosquitoes and other water-borne disease which are a serious threat to newborn health. Malaria is a leading cause of illness, and is responsible for 13% of deaths in under-fives in Uganda. (WHO and UN Partners country statistics, 2015)

VHT support 

Amref trains VHTs like Teddy to deliver sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), nutrition, hygiene and counselling to ensure that women—especially vulnerable teenage girls—and their babies get access to essential health information and services.

Through mobile learning and in-person training, Teddy learns about newborn health, infant immunisation and infant care, including breastfeeding. In her house-to-house visits she passes on what she learns to mothers, to ensure that they can keep their babies safe and give them the best possible start in life.

“I love getting informed about various aspects, inspiring me to get deeper into this work. Desiring to learn and tapping into the unknown, seeing people develop, pushes me to seek support for my community members,” Teddy says. 

Images: Teddy Lutaaya with Sharon Nakayenga and her baby Abdul Malik (c) Amref Health Africa/Sarah Waiswa; Teddy Lutaaya on her house calls in Kawempe (c) Amref Health Africa/Sarah Waiswa. 

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