The youth form a larger part of the total population of the world. It is very heartrending to note that this large sect of the world’s population is facing a lot of challenges and among them are issues pertaining to drug and substance abuse that lead to mental illness, death and many other problems. Of paramount importance and worth the world’s attention and collective action is the issue of Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) of young people.
The problem mainly comes in due to the fact that the youth across the globe do not have access to SRH services. Adolescence has its own accompanying elements and among them is the need to seek knowledge about one’s sexuality. As such, the youth lack knowledge and they rely on information from their peers. Usually, this information is based on myths and half-truths and they act based on the misconceptions and they eventually face the dire consequences.
Firstly, the youth, more especially girls are greatly affected by Sexual Reproductive Health problems like maternal death and fistula. These two ‘beasts’ have claimed thousands of young lives across the world. The root of the problem emanates from the fact that young girls start engaging in sexual activities with either boys of their age group or older men. Due to lack of knowledge on the issues of sex and sexuality, they end up being impregnated. Because of their immaturity, many die during delivery and some end up with obstetric fistula.
Secondly, SRH problems have led to an increase in school drop out rate more especially in low income countries. The lack of knowledge on issues of sex and sexuality combined with the lack of SRH services like contraceptives has led to an increase in the number of teenage pregnancies. In Malawi and most traditional societies, when a boy impregnates a girl, culture and society dictates that they should marry. Thus, bringing food on the table becomes the order of the day to such couples and the responsibility leaves them with no room to go back to school.
Thirdly, HIV and AIDS has and is still claiming lives of young people throughout the world. HIV prevalence rate is dangerously high among the youth in spite of several attempts by governments, funding agencies and NGOs to put the situation under control. The problem has, in the long run, affected youth representation in various critical and key positions in the society. As such, implementation and formulation of some human development initiatives do not consider the youth.
The issues of SRH are very crosscutting hence the need for a systematic approach to deal with the problem. Culture and societal norms need to be tackled as well as the two are also among the main perpetrators of among the SRH problems among the youth. It is like a puzzle that has to be solved in order to save the next generation.