Social workers argue that access to basic reproductive health information and services, including voluntary family planning, would help to mitigate maternal deaths in Lira District.
However, there remains stiff resistance from several men in Lira who are opposed to family planning due to widespread misconceptions about use of contraceptives.
Family planning is deciding of the number and spacing of children through use of contraception such as abstinence and hormonal birth control.
Ms Sunday Lamwaka, a midwife at Anyangatir Health Centre III in Adekokwok Sub-county, says many men do not want their wives to access family planning methods.
“We have cases where some women who go for family planning complain that their husbands beat them whenever they discover that they are on family planning to control births,” she says.
According to Ms Lamwaka, many women now stealthily visit health facilities to access family planning services.
Ms Sandra Akello, a mother from Agali Sub-county, Lira District, says she enrolled on family planning without consulting her husband.
“But when I started experiencing menstrual flow, which lasted for over one week, my husband became so aggressive and beat me for accessing the service without his permission, so I stopped it,” she says.
Another woman, Juliet Adongo, who has been using pills for three years, stopped after she started developing some side effects including headache.
Mr Michael Ocen, a farmer from Onyakedi Village in Agali Sub-county, says some men are opposed to their wives accessing family planning services because some women go for it without consulting their husbands.
“And this makes us feel that our wives do not respect us and this leads to domestic violence,” he says.
Medical practitioners suggest that government should make family planning services more user-friendly because some of them have side effects such as prolonged menstrual flow.
The assistant district health officer-in-charge of maternal and child health in Lira, Mr Edmond Aceka, stresses the need for capacity building for the health workers on family planning provision.
“What government must do is to address the problem of the side effects of some family planning pills. Men should also be encouraged to support birth control methods,” he says.
The chief executive officer of Global Forum for Development, Mr Morris Chris Ongom, says government should regulate birth control measures if it is to achieve middle income status by 2020 and Vision 2040.
He says, the projected population of Uganda is now 37 million people and in the next 10 years, it will be around 50 million people.
“The population is increasing but the size of land is not, so if nothing is done to control population growth now, in the near future, there is going to be population explosion,” he says.
According to a 2013 report by White Ribbon Alliance, a local non-governmental organisation, about 17 mothers were dying every day in Lira due to inadequate government investment in lifesaving emergency care.