Perceptions about human rights, sexual and reproductive health services by Internally Displaced Persons in Northern Uganda
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Background: About 1.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) from northern Uganda have been living in encampments since the late 1980s. In conflict settings such as northern Uganda women are disproportionately affected compared to men. This study explores women and men IDPs‘perceptions of their access to information about rights, access to health services and gender-based violence. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study conducted in Kitgum and Pader districts, northern Uganda. We interviewed a total of 1,383 respondents comprising 968 (70%) adults and 415 (30%) adolescents; 60% were females and 40% males, randomly selected from 35 of 67 (52.2%) IDP camps. We held 27 key informant interviews and 52 focus group discussions. Data were entered in EPI data version 3.02 and analysed using SPSS version 12.00 statistical packages. Results: Most (67.5%) of the respondents (68.9% males and 66.6% females) have heard about the notion of human rights. The main sources of information were UN/NGOs 23.7% and radios 23.0%. The right to health (18.8%), freedom of association (16.8%) and the right to education (15.7%) were most known. Although most respondents, 87.3% (88.9% males compared to 85.6% females mentioned preference for delivery in a health unit, main constraints to women’s access to health care include lack of money 34.9% males and 37.9% females; lack of information 25.3% males and 23.2% females; and lack of decision power 17.7% males and 17.3% females. Most people (72.7%) (Women: 77.3%; men: 68.5%) perceive gender based violence (GBV) as common in the settings. The main GBV management interventions include treatment of physical injuries 33.9%; testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections 22.4% and counselling 18.9%. Conclusions and recommendations: Most IDPs are aware about human rights issues mainly through humanitarian agencies and the media. Although geographic accessibility to health services is high, lack of finances, information and decision power hinder women’s access to health care services. Duty bearers need to increase community awareness about human rights, both among men and women in order to ensure women‘s access to health care services. Similarly they must strengthen health systems to provide equitable health services for all IDPs particularly reproductive health services.