There is a significant change in perception and access to Youth Friendly Health Services (YFHS) at T/A Nankumba thanks to the Get Up Speak Out Project(GUSO).
The sentiments were made on the side-lines of a meeting which was aimed at sensitising communities on their roles in encouraging safer Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) practices among sub youth populations.
Chairperson for Nankumba youth network William Phiri said since the project commenced in 2016 they have managed to reach out to youths in over 21 villages within Nankumba with messages on SRH and HIV/AIDS.
William however worried about the long distances youths have to cover to access such services.
“Some villages are far, so you can imagine for a youth to walk about 35 kilometres to access a service it is really hard so, I feel this is a huge set back to the initiative,” said Phiri.
Phiri therefore proposed that there is need to train more Youth Community Based Distribution Agents (YCBDA’s), peer educators, be trained so as to meet the demand that is there.
One other key issue which needs urgent address is that of stock outs for condoms and other contraceptives.
“In some instances a youth may want to get a particular service but when they go to the hospital they find that it is not there so this puts them at risk of being infected with HIV or pregnancy”, said Phiri.
The chair also talked about the good rapport that is there between them and religious leaders saying it has assisted in wooing more youths to take up contraceptive methods.
During the exercise, at least 350 community members including traditional and religious leaders have been sensitised about their role in promoting uptake of Youth Friendly Health Services (YFHS) and encouraging safe sex practices among young people in T/A Nankumba and Mponda.
GUSO project is being implemented by a consortium of 6 local NGOs which formed the Malawi SRHR Alliance. YONECO is implementing the programme with financial support from Simavi, Netherlands.