USHAPE (Uganda Sexual Health and Pastoral Education) is a family planning training programme, based at Bwindi Community Hospital, adjacent to the renowned Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda. The programme was originally run in collaboration with the UK’s Royal College of General Practitioners, Bwindi Community Hospital, and a group of UK based clinicians. In 2016, Network coordinator, the Margaret Pyke Trust, began to take over certain USHAPE project management activities.
USHAPE follows a “whole institution approach” to training health workers, and thereby works to raise the profile of family planning in the minds of all health workers at Bwindi Community Hospital and its satellite clinics. Training is in-service, and because all staff and students are trained together, they can see the relevance of family planning to their other work, and support each other to bring about service changes optimising the uptake of contraception. Additionally, USHAPE promotes contraceptive use in the community, by working with youth groups, teachers and others, aiming to develop young people into agents for change who will continue to advocate the importance of family planning.
Women around Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park have, on average, six children, which is two more than they want. The purpose of USHAPE is to remove barriers to rights-based voluntary family planning services, thereby reducing this unmet need. Unintended pregnancies, due to the paucity of supply of contraception leads to the population growing more quickly than would otherwise be the case, and this is impacting both community and ecosystem health. The local ecosystem, the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National, is of huge cultural significance to the local Batwa community, as well as being critical for ecosystem dependent livelihoods, and the non-human primates (such as chimpanzees and gorillas) which also call the Forest home. The Margaret Pyke Trust is now working in the area on these integrated community and ecosystem health issues, with support from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and the Wingham Wildlife Park.
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