Young people in the country are still facing challenges in accessing sexual reproductive health services and this is putting them at high risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections including HIV and unplanned and early pregnancies with negative consequences such as dropping out of school and unsafe abortion.
This was revealed during a youth open day organised by Banja la Mtsogolo which took place yesterday in Lilongwe at Unicef Ground, Chinsapo.
Speaking to Malawi24, Senior Program Manager at BLM Tusekele Mwakasungula said young people continue having challenges in accessing the services due to long distance, as well unfriendly health services from health workers and unfavorable policies.
“So today we have organised a youth open day with the sole purpose of providing the sexual reproductive health rights and services to young and we are targeting youths aged from 10 to 19 which are adolescents and also 20 to 24 which are young people,”
“This is a very important event as far as young people are concerned, if you may be aware that access to services among young people we are not doing well as a country although we have youth friendly services in our hospitals but still youth can’t access the services. So, we thought of taking these services into our community where our youth are, so that we make the services accessible to young people,” said Mwakasungula.
According to Mwakasungula, there is need for positive influence on youth sex behaviour, orienting health systems and personnel to offer youth friendly sexual and reproductive health services and also improve parent and youth communication and at the same time aligning national sexual and reproductive health policies on youths with current youth sexual practices.
In her remarks, Queen Kimmy Mwandira who is one of the ambassador of Iheard project being implemented by BLM, said the event is an eye opener to young people in terms of misconceptions which they were having on issues to do with sexual reproductive health and services.
“After this event, young people will have knowledge on issues to do with sexual reproductive health services as well as family planning methods and it will help them to prevent STIs and unwanted pregnancies,” she said.
During the youth open day, BLM distributed free condoms to youths, provided free family planning methods as well as HIV testing and counselling among others.
The event was spiced up by performances by Eli Njuchi and other local artists, as well as poetry, traditional dances and drama performed by Chinsapo Arts theatre.