A local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Coalition of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (COWLHA) recently held a fathers camp in Chikwawa to encourage parents to allow their children access Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) Services in the country.
The NGO under the project Get Up, Speak Out (GUSO) with support from AIDSFONDS, engaged parents particularly fathers from its two impact areas of Traditional Authorities (TAs), Lundu and Ngabu at a camp held at Kukhala Motel in Nchalo.
Speaking during an interview the organisation’s Project Officer in Chikwawa, Sekani Tchuwa said the camp was organized considering that fathers can be perpetrators of violence but at the same time they can also be champions on young people’s SRHR services.
“We want to put fathers in the forefront in encouraging young people in the country to access SRHR services.
“Sometimes young people fail to access SRHR services because their parents particularly fathers are discouraging them. Parents also provide wrong information to their children on SRHR services.
“So far, we have already engaged the mother group structures, we also engaged the young people themselves hence we thought we could now engage the fathers,” she stated.
Tchuwa added that that as the project winds up by the end of the year, her organization thought it wise to engage the men as they are heads of their households and also leaders of a community who can influence young people’s rights in SRHR uptake.
According to Tchuwa, her organization seeks to leave a safe environment where the young people are supported by their mothers, fathers and the chiefs in accessing SRHR services.
“We expect them to act as mentors. We have already connected them to various youth clubs where they are entrusted to reach out to their fellow men, local leaders and their families in advocating for the SRHR services for the young people,” she stated.
On his part, Onesmo Felix, from Bester Village of Ndife Amodzi Youth Club in T/A Ngabu said it was a good gesture that men are now included in issues of SRHR involving young people.
He said he has learnt more issues concerning family planning among others and he was sure that the interventions will positively impact on the lives of young people.
Gift Jimu from Chipwaila II village in the area of Senior Chief Ngabu said the camp had increased his knowledge on SRHR services.
Chikwawa District Hospital, Youth Friendly Health Services (YFHS), Coordinator, Patrick Baluwa said under COWLHA, GUSO project in Chikwawa has helped in terms of SRHR interventions.
There is high pregnancy rate among young people in Chikwawa and Nsanje district, a development authorities attribute to lack of accessing in sexual reproductive health services among the youth.