Adolescents face a lot of hurdles whenever they want to access Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services that are said-to-be youth friendly in Malawi .More and more, young people face an increasing pressure on issues concerning their sex and sexuality. This includes, getting conflicting information and ideas due to the fact that they are unable to get hold of correct and reliable information from experts. As such, they rely heavily on myths and unfounded opinions.
There are definitely some barriers that prevent them from seeking professional help from the available Youth Friendly Health Services. I would like to explore and explain some of the hurdles that put off the youth from accessing SRH Services.
Firstly, traditional beliefs are very strong so much that they exert a lot of influence as well as pressure on people in the society and the youth are not immune to this. A lot of myths and misconceptions on the issues pertaining to SRH are embroidered within the customs of our diverse societies. The youth are left with no option except to believe and follow what their customs want them to believe. As such, they follow baseless procedures as stipulated by the society.
In this light, the best way is to bring to the open what is wrong and what is right. There is need to advocate for good and acceptable practices in as far as SRH is concerned. Young people are supposed to be aware because ignorance has so far proved to be a very expensive commodity in our various societies.
Secondly, the attitude of some health workers is also a prohibiting factor in its own light. The approach that our health workers use leaves a lot to be desired. In order to ensure that the youth are getting the necessary sexual and reproductive health services, there is need to adopt an approach that considers all dilemmas that young people are always in. The youth are always confused and shy when it comes to issues concerning sex and sexuality. As such, they are permanently put off when they detect any annoying or unwelcome gesture that the medical personnel may show- the youth are always sensitive.
In light of this, our medical personnel need to adopt a positive and friendly attitude towards the youth who go for SRH services. Without an adjustment in terms of the conduct of our medical experts, it is an uphill battle as the youth will be expected to get the necessary SRH services from places where they do not feel free to go. Furthermore, teen pregnancies and marriages will remain common and unpleasant features of our society.
Thirdly, the youth are limited and they are denied a number of opportunities that are of paramount importance to their welfare as well as development. The youth are left out in the formulation and implementation processes of initiatives that are aimed at improving their sexual reproductive health. As such, their views are not incorporated and the end result of such initiatives is that the youth do not feel any sense of ownership. In addition to this, some elements that would make the youth feel open and content are not incorporated simply because the beneficiaries themselves were not consulted.
Young people’s limited access to education, employment, money and information (about sex, gender roles and relationships, for example) combined with the lack of opportunities have proved to be very disastrous. The lack of opportunities to acquire knowledge about SRH issues and their limited capacities to get information entails that they make or rely on baseless accounts. This makes them prone to sexual and reproductive health problems.
Some health centres that provide SRH services are not close to the areas where the youth live and the nearest they can get them from are privately owned clinics. With the economic hardships that the youth face, they cannot manage to afford the services.
The above mentioned factors are among the factors that hinder the youth from accessing SRH services and information. Adolescent boys and girls have the right to access SRH services for the betterment of themselves and the society as a whole. Its time the challenges were addressed so as to guard the future of our society.