On 26th September, the world commemorated the World Contraceptive Day under a very enlightening theme; “it’s your life, your future and know your option’’.
The theme is talking directly to everyone who wishes the best for him or herself and young people out there should take heed of what the theme is implying.
The Malawi government and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are supporting communities in an effort to ease access of Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) Services in health centres. Of particular interest is the fact that the youth are not excluded in the list of the recipients of the SRH Services.
However, it is very saddening to note that young people, more especially those who live in the remotest parts of the country, do not have easy access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Services like contraceptives.
Consequently, such areas register shocking statistics on early pregnancies, maternal mortality rates, obstetric fistula and unsafe abortions.
Thus, it is an undeniable fact that the provision of Youth Friendly Health Services (YFHS) is an aspect that has to be considered carefully if the country is to deal with sexual and reproductive health problems that are affecting young people.
As a deliberate effort to make sure that the youth have access to SRH services, the government, NGOs and other development partners have supported the intensification of YFHS. Despite such efforts, there are other factors that are shocking progress in the implementation of YFHS.
There are some factors that have led to problems in the provision youth health friendly services in the health centres where YFHS Corners have been established. The factors include the attitude of service providers towards the youth. This is a scenario whereby health workers are judgemental and treat young people who go for SRH services as sinners or ill-bred kids.
Adolescents easily perceive such attitudes and it always makes them feel unwelcome. As a result, they shun away from accessing what they rightfully deserve due to fear and shyness and eventually end up in deep water.
In addition, another factor is that communities, more especially the youth themselves, are not aware of Youth Health Friendly Service Corners that have been established in health centres across the country.
On this factor, there is a need to make young people aware of YFHS and what they offer.Young people really need to know about contraceptives and how they work. In this way, it will help them establish the truth other than believing in misconceptions and myths about family planning methods and procedures.
In light of all this, it is necessary to intensify and implement more activities on youth sexual reproductive health and rights and encourage the youth to abstain and if not, they need to use contraceptives.