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COHERINET: Community-driven Coalition Promotes SRH Awareness Across Uganda

Transforming access to sexual and reproductive health services and rights (SRHR) begins at the grassroots level for the members of Uganda’s Community Health Rights Network, also known as COHERINET.

Based in Kampala, COHERINET was formed in 2013 as a coalition of local actors advocating for and providing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) awareness across Uganda’s five regions. The network consists of community-based organizations, health workers, and educational institutes working on SRHR across Uganda.

Founder Yiga Musa said that COHERINET services equip Ugandans of reproductive age with the “knowledge, skills, and confidence to make autonomous decisions about their sexual [and] reproductive health rights and further increase uptake and access to comprehensive sexual [and] reproductive health services not limited to abortion.”COHERINET focuses on creating greater community awareness of SRH by conducting community engagement sessions among key affected populations and priority groups, including women, adolescents, men and boys, and people living with HIV, said Musa.

Drawing on its diverse membership, COHERINET has developed a robust referral network of community health providers offering SRH services.

Notable for its creative approach to accessing remote communities, COHERINET created Aunt KAKI, a toll-free helpline where callers receive information on a spectrum of SRH services and rights – from community health center locations and contraceptive options to legal aid referrals and information on sexual pleasure. Aunt KAKI is grounded in the Ugandan tradition that aunts are safe and trusted resources for learning about SRH.

Aunt KAKI operators are specifically trained to provide stigma-free support to callers, as COHERINET understands that service providers’ attitudes can be barriers to accessing quality SRH care. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Aunt KAKI has proved particularly crucial for the 702 women seeking SRH referrals and nearly 2,000 callers who reached out to the helpline for SRH counseling, according to Musa.

“We hope to become a strong community, grassroots level movement of activists and advocates championing [the] realization of sexual reproductive health rights not limited to abortion as a healthcare human right,” Musa said. He added, “Our vision [is] having a model community where everyone is happy and healthy.”

COHERINET invites you to follow their work at https://www.coherinetug.org/. To call Aunt KAKI, dial +256 0800 24 2 47.

Sexual and reproductive health services remain critical during COVID-19

IAWG members and partners are producing clinical and programmatic guidance, assessments, policy papers, and statements to ensure continued prioritization of sexual and reproductive health and rights throughout COVID-19 response in humanitarian settings.