YONECO organized an inception meeting for a two-and-a-half-year SADC Youth Helpline Project which the organization will be implementing in Malawi.
The project will enable young people to access specialist counselling services, HIV and AIDS as well as Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) information and referrals to high impact services.
The Executive Director of YONECO, MacBain Mkandawire, described the SADC Youth Helpline Project as an innovative way of delivering integrated health services to young people. Mkandawire explained that the project has come at a right time when Malawi, just like the rest of the world, is grappling with the impact of Covid-19 pandemic which has also affected young people’s access to various health services.
“With the latest report by the National AIDS Commission (NAC) which indicates an increase in new HIV infections among the youth, the project is very key in contributing towards addressing such problems,” said Mkandawire.
Speaking during the meeting, NAC’s Prevention Officer, Alice Mvalo, commended YONECO for introducing the project in Malawi. Mvalo said the initiative will make a significant contribution to various efforts that are aimed at reducing new HIV infections.
Concurring with Mvalo, the Director of Gender in the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Alice Mkandawire, advised YONECO and its implementing partners to properly manage data as it will be crucial in informing further programming.
“As government, we will ensure that we are closely monitoring the implementation of the project and provide the necessary feedback’’ said Mkandawire.
In his remarks, the National Coordinator for Reproductive Health in the Ministry of Health and Population, Hans Katengeza, called for collaboration among all stakeholders in the implementation of the project. Katengeza also requested the implementing partners to consider scaling up to various parts of the country.
The Youth Helpline Project is being implemented in three countries namely; Malawi, Zimbabwe and Botswana. The initiative is being funded by SADC HIV Fund through Youth Advocates which is based in Zimbabwe.