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50 Young Men Attempted Suicide During COVID-19 Lockdown in Kampala

According to the report, a total of 2,500 adolescent boys and young men aged 10 to 24 years participated in a survey conducted in August in all the divisions of Kampala city. They were asked about how COVID-19 had affected their health and psychological well-being.

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50 adolescent boys and young men in Kampala attempted to commit suicide at the height of the lockdown instituted to control the transmission of COVID-19. This is according to a study conducted by the Makerere University School of Public Health.

According to the report, a total of 2,500 adolescent boys and young men aged 10 to 24 years participated in a survey conducted in August in all the divisions of Kampala city. They were asked about how COVID-19 had affected their health and psychological well-being.

Sharing the findings in the Pre- dissemination meeting with journalists on Thursday evening, Dr Joseph Musoke, the Co-investigator on the study that involves both school-going and out of school young men said 70 per cent of their respondents who were met both physically and through mobile phone reported feeling more nervous than ever before and these feelings were most common among the out of school category.

He says 2 per cent of all the respondents reported contemplating to commit suicide whereas more than 30 per cent reported having worried to the extent of losing appetite for food.

//Cue in; “We found 2 per cent...

Cue out... Were 30.2 per cent”. // 

The boys were also asked about how far they respected COVID-19 prevention measures such as hand washing, physical distancing and wearing a face mask all the time in public.  80 per cent were found to be aware of at least two measures but the majority didn’t practice what they know for instance 90% of those in school and over 80 per cent of those out of the school knew handwashing with soap and water is key, only 22 per cent reported washing their hands.

//Cue in; “92 per cent to…

Cue out…school guys basembanakyo.”// 

Conducted at a cost of 200million Shillings, this research was funded by the government of Uganda under the Research and Innovations Fund to establish the health status of young men in Uganda starting such that male-specific interventions into their health can be designed. 

Dr Stephen Kabwama who was part of the research team says while all efforts in the lockdown and after lifting the lockdown were being geared towards maternal health and safety of the girl child, males also faced challenges accessing healthcare.

He notes that two in every ten boys couldn’t access healthcare due to the breakdown of public transport whereby 86 per cent of those that reported to be sexually active couldn’t access condoms and yet 81 per cent couldn’t access HIV testing services.

The researchers now recommend that healthcare managers should integrate male-targeted interventions in their programming and ensure that they should access services such as counselling just as their female counterparts.

However, their findings relate to recent reports shared by the Executive Director of Butabika hospital Dr Juliet Nakku who revealed during an event to mark World Mental Health day that more males who were already on mental health treatments relapsed during the lockdown.        

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