Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM) with support from German Government through GIZ and United Nations Aids Agency (UNAIDS) has made increasing youth-friendly HIV and sexual and reproductive health services its top priority .
FPAM has commended various stakeholders for successfully implementing K81 million youth friendly health project dubbed 'Narrowing the Gap, in addressing Adolescents' Sexual Health Rights needs and challenges in Malawi'
Speaking during a consultative meeting with midwives, nurses, clinical officers, and other health technical personnel in Mchinji, FPAM Lilongwe District Coordinator, Tamara Mhango, said it is important that youths are given correct information so that they are able to make informed decisions.
Mhango said young people should be accorded their own rights to access Sexual Health and Rights information, saying addressing adolescents' Sexual Health and Rights needs and challenges in Malawi project is aimed at demonstrating an integrated HIV main streaming model in increasing adolescence access to sexual health, HIV and unintended pregnancy prevention and rights support services.
According to Mhango said National and local coordination mechanisms, Monitoring and evaluation systems and guidelines for effective sexual and reproductive health (including HIV and AIDS) service delivery for adolescents health rolled out to reach 50% of community structures in the 10 targeted districts (Including religious communities, local governance structures) develop their capacity to deliver relevant SRH and HIV prevention information, risk reduction education and demand creation for utilization of services.
Mhango said young people should be given opportunity to access SR services because they form large part of the population which is at 56 percent.
She said most young people become sexually active during adolescence and often have no access to family planning resulting in high teen pregnancies due to low contraceptive usage among most sexually active adolescents.
According to the data, two in five new HIV infections occur in young people aged 15-24 while 10 - 40 percent of young unmarried women have had an unintended pregnancy.
The project according to Mhango has helped to train 60 young people as Peer educators in each district as well as developing and disseminating easy to use information, education and communication materials in the initiation ceremonies and "Sister to Sister" initiation camps and other traditional ceremonies including developing and disseminate SRHR and HIV messages through mass media.
It has also helped to provide targeted community sensitization campaigns to the youths to increase awareness and demand and clear myths and misconceptions surrounding use of modern family planning methods to at risk adolescents as well as conducting meetings with 15 district stakeholders to develop a youth focused referral mechanism to link all those adolescents tested and are HIV positive to treatment and care services.
During the meeting Mchinji Acting youths coordinator for health friendly services, Elia Phiri, commended FPAM for empowering the hospital with transport and medicines for young people.
Phiri said the hospital will now be able to travel long distances and make follow ups on various cases involving the young people.