UCLA School of Public Health Field Studies Program

Community Health Sciences

Field Placement:  Population Secretariat
Location: Kampala, Uganda
Preceptor: Dr. Betty Kyaddondo and Dr. Jotham Musinguzi
Student Name: Caroline Elson
Year: 2008

From June 27, 2008 to September 5, 2008, I worked as an intern for the Population Secretariat (POPSEC) in Kampala, Uganda.  During these ten weeks, I worked primarily for POPSEC’s Family Health Department (FHD). In addition to working with FHD, I also participated in activities with Partners in Population and Development (PPD), another organization housed in the same building.  I thus had two preceptors during my internship: Dr. Betty Kyaddondo from POPSEC who served as my primary preceptor, and Dr. Jotham Musinguzi from PPD who acted as my secondary preceptor.

POPSEC works primarily on advocating for better reproductive health policies within Uganda, and its main focus is improving maternal and child health within the country.  FHD works closely with other stakeholders such as the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) to promote reproductive health advocacy both within government and on the ground.  The department’s core responsibilities include organizing and offering technical support for reproductive health projects throughout Uganda and programming and monitoring the progress of these established reproductive health projects. 

During my internship with POPSEC, I assisted in the preparation and report-writing of various reproductive health conferences, including the Safe Motherhood Conference with the First Lady of Uganda, a parliamentary meeting to encourage members of parliament to advocate for improved access to family planning within Uganda, a cervical cancer conference, World Population Day, and a reproductive health commodity security conference for members of the East African Reproductive Health Network (EAHRN).  In addition to preparing and writing reports for these conferences, I also had the opportunity to write an article about my reactions to population and reproductive health issues in Uganda.
PPD, the organization which I interned for on a much smaller scale, is an inter-governmental alliance that works to promote and mobilize resources for reproductive health, population and development purposes in Africa.  Its work consists of policy dialogue, networking, building strategic partnerships across Africa and sharing experiences of best practices regarding population, reproductive health and development.  My work with PPD has consisted primarily of helping to conduct research for their East African Reproductive Health Network (EARHN) Conference and assisting in the planning for both the EARHN Conference and the PPD Eastern and Southern Africa regional parliamentary meeting taking place in September.

My internship with POPSEC and PPD has enabled me to see first-hand the real challenges that Ugandans and East Africans are facing in terms of reproductive health and sexual rights.  Being able to witness community member participation at various meetings and conferences has illuminated the struggles that families here face on a daily basis in regards to their reproductive health options.  I have seen how difficult it can be to encourage the government and community members to embrace family planning, for there still exist many myths and misinformation regarding the consequences of contraception use.  I have learned so much from POPSEC about the process of advocating for reproductive health at higher levels of government and how Uganda’s increasing population is affecting the health status of its citizens.




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