Posted: Thu, July 14, 2016 | By: Uganda
co-written by Nadeya Stella and Hank Pellissier
“Jocelyn Elders Clinic” was recently launched by a USA nonprofit, to serve the 329 students attending Garama Humanist Secondary School in the village of Kisinga, in western Uganda.
The clinic is named after the US Surgeon General who was the first African-American appointed to the position. Born into a poor sharecropping family, Joycelyn Elders became valedictorian of her high school, and received her MD from the University of Arkansas.
She was famous for her controversial opinions on sex education and contraceptive distribution in schools, and her criticism of the Catholic Church for its opposition to abortion.
In 1992, she was forced to resign from her position as Surgeon General by the Clinton administration, that “surrendered to Republican pressure.” Her dismissal came soon after a United Nations conference, where “she had condoned the idea of teaching schoolchildren to masturbate as a way of avoiding the spread of the AIDS virus.”
Today she is an Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics at University of Arkansas.
Joycelyn Elders Clinic will represent its namesake’s views in Uganda, with sex education classes, and condom give-aways for students. The clinic is funded by Brighter Brains Institute (BBI), a California based NPO that assists 16 schools in Uganda.
The influential Anglican and Catholic clergy in Uganda maintain control of many of the schools, where they forbid condom use for teenagers. Garama is free of these anti-sex influences because it is “Secular Humanist” - a progressive, non-theistic philosophy that supports women’s equality, birth control, and abortion. The school adheres to the ideals outlined in “The Code for Global Ethics: Ten Principles of Humanism” by Canadian author Rodrigue Trembley.
Condom use is a life-or-death issue in Uganda, where 1.6 million people live with HIV and 63,000 people die annually of AIDS. The rate is particularly high in western Uganda, where Jocelyn Elders Clinic is located; HIV prevalence here is 11%.
Unintended pregnancy is also a serious problem in Uganda, where more than four in ten babies are unplanned, and Ugandan women give birth to almost two children more than they want (6.2 vs. 4.5), one of the highest levels of excess fertility in the world. An average of six girls per year get pregnant at the Garama school; this frequently leads to unsafe abortions (accounting for 26% of all maternity deaths) or permanently dropping out of school.
Rape is common in the region, and young women are 3X more likely to be HIV-positive than young men because their lack of power frequently leads them to engage in cross-generational sex.
Condoms given to Garama will also be distributed at four other near-by schools: Saad Secondary in Kiburara, Standard Secondary in Kisinga, Ruhind Secondary in Mitooma, and Light School in Mitooma.
Funds for the Joycelyn Elders Clinic will be raised by the Brighter Brains Institute in online campaigns, via Facebook, twitter, articles, and email petitions to past contributors.
The clinic will also treat students suffering from diseases that afflict the regional populace: malaria, parasitic worm infections, peptic ulcer disease (caused by malnutrition), diarrhea, pneumonia, and “wounds.”
Additionally, BBI will provide the girls at Garama Humanist Secondary School with AFRIpads - washable, reusable sanitary pads that last for one year.
The Jocelyn Elders Clinic budget is:
$721 — 7,000 male condoms
$900 — 1,500 female condoms
$90 — Plastic Male and Female Organs to Teach Sex Education
$450 — Salary for Sex Education Teacher
$800 — AFRIpads
$1,200 — Medicine (for malaria, parasitic worms, peptic ulcer disease, infections, etc.)
$500 — Medic Salary for one year
$4,661 - Total
After the condom give-away and sex education program is fully underway at Joycelyn Elders Clinic, the Brighter Brains Institute will implement it at another clinic it recently opened, in the fishing village of Kahendero, where prostitution is rampant.