CCAP Synod of Livingstonia-Health Department said it is now time for religious institutions to open up and speak out on issues that were previously hidden because of different beliefs.
The synod is implementing a project in Mzimba which specifically tackles issues on gender-based violence and sexual reproductive health among others, as a step to break the silence that has usually engulfed such issues.
The synod's Health Department Monitoring and Evaluation officer, Godfrey Silungwe, said through the project, which is dubbed Nzatonse; facilitators in sexual reproductive health and gender-based violence have been trained to sensitize communities to enable them to be open on issues which were previously hidden.
"Previously gender-based violence cases were rarely reported to authorities because people believed that such issues should be handled in their secrecy form.
"But as a health department through the synod, we felt it is high time we had to take out such issues since a lot of people, mainly women, were suffering silently," he said.
Silungwe explained that through the project, church clerics have been trained in gender-based violence for them to promptly deal with the issues in their communities.
"Church leaders and clerics also take part in community sensitization on issues related to gender-based violence to ensure that families and the community at large stay in harmony," he added.
Besides fighting gender- based violence, the project also aims at equipping youths in the church with knowledge on sexual reproductive health rights.
"Previously the church was silent on sexual reproductive health issues for the youths to the extent that they ended up getting the same but distorted information from other platforms," the monitoring and evaluation officer said.
The synod's health department is integrating sexual reproductive health issues within religious youth clubs so that besides sharing Christian teachings, they should also gain skills and knowledge on sexual transmitted infections, early marriages and evils of dropping out of school.
The synod has built five youth friendly resource centres where youths access friendly health services in Mzimba District through Nzatonse Project.