Windhoek — The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has donated contraceptives worth over N$7 million for the country's public health facilities.
The contraceptives are long-term and include 60,000 units of DMPA depo-provera and soloshots syringes, 110,000 units of noristerate and soloshots syringes, 5,000 units of Copper T 380A IUDs, 1,100 units of Jadelle implants, 200,000 units of female condoms and 7,000 implanon NTX.
"We trust these contraceptives will benefit in particular adolescent girls and young women not only in urban communities but also the rural and hard to reach communities," said Dennia Gayle, the UNFPA country representative, at the handover ceremony last Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Bernard Haufiku, who received the contraceptives on behalf of the ministry, said the contraceptives would be taken to the people who need them.
"N$7 million is not small money," stated Haufiku, warning his staff to not keep the contraceptives piled up in warehouses as has been the case in the past, which ineptitude was raised by President Hage Geingob.
Geingob had urged the prime minister to see that inept permanent secretaries and senior officials who deliberately derail service delivery under the delusion they are untouchable, should be held accountable.
Meanwhile Hausiku said: "We're not informed enough to combat unwanted pregnancies. It is commodities such as this that will help us go forward. Many young girls still fall pregnant and we still have teachers being impregnated by young boys."
Haufiku also used the platform to call for feedback regarding abortion consultations on whether to legalise it or not. Furthermore, Gayle said that without access to contraception, poor women, particularly those who are less educated and live in rural areas, are at heightened risk of unintended pregnancy.
This, she added, may result in health risks and lifelong economic repercussions.
The lack of power to decide whether, when or how often to become pregnant can limit education, delay entry into the paid labour force and reduce earnings, emphasised Gayle. As a result, women's ability to build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities is threatened.
"It is essential that we act now to close this gap and ensure that family planning is an option for everyone who needs it, including adolescent girls and young women," said Gayle.
According to the UNFPA, there are 1.2 billion adolescents (10-19 age group) globally who are entering or already in their reproductive years. Yet, most of them do not have access to comprehensive sexuality education or contraception.
Gayle felt what happens in the next few years is critical for their lives and futures and for their countries' futures. As a result, there is an urgent need to ensure that programmes that are aimed at addressing adolescents and young people's sexual and reproductive health are scaled up, especially for the hard to reach areas.
"With the current high incident of teenage pregnancy in the country, that stands at 19 percent but as high as 35 percent in some regions; with the prominence of new HIV infection among adolescents and particularly adolescent girls; it is clear that we need to take action," she said.
UNFPA believes that investing in adolescents and young people's sexual and reproductive health is a smart investment that Namibia can make.
"We need our young people to stay in school, build their skills and competencies and prepare them for a labour market that is vibrant and efficient," added Gayle.