Sunday, 31 December 2017

The Plight of Young People Living with HIV in Malawi

It is now a known fact that HIV is now manageable as compared to how the situation was in the last two decades. People living with HIV are now able to live healthy and productive lives without the fear of death which loosely became the synonym of HIV some years ago.

Through various ways, more and more young people are living with HIV. The coming in of Antiretroviral Drugs is a major step towards having healthy and strong young people. Both those Living with HIV and those who are not are able to contribute positively to the development of the country in their capacities as young people.

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about providing necessary support to young people who are living with HIV. However, I have not really seen a lot in terms of action towards ensuring that Young People Living HIV/AIDS are given the much needed support. If there is a group of people who need to be heard and their concerns addressed are the young people who are living with HIV.

The inattention that is given to YPLHA has led to increased number of them to default drugs and eventually develop AIDS. Many young people have been lost due to our uncaring attitudes.

Having HIV is a health issue and just like any other personal healthy issue, YPLHA have been longing for privacy. They have always wanted to make sure that their HIV status is not known to others. This is due to a number of valid reasons and it would be good to work on the issues that are there to guarantee them this wish. For instance, YPLHV who are in boarding schools face a lot of challenges to get a permission to go to hospital to collect ARTs.

Why do teachers have to ask so many question?

Why do teachers disclose this to every staff member who later go out to tell other students?

This leads to the worst stigma ever on the school compass. When their status is known, YPLHA have to brave and endure discrimination in all its various forms. However, it is hard to concentrate when the whole compass seems to be sidelining you and maybe a few others. We should not except such young people to excel in their studies because the position they have been places on is worse than I a prison cell where everyone treats another as a fellow prisoner and not an outsider.

There are so many situations that have put the lives of YPLHA in danger. We need to work on this as a nation. Let us listen to the voices of YPLHA…even their silence has to be properly comprehended, it is a communication and we need to know what it means.  

YONECO Distributes 15 Bicycles to YCBDAs in Mangochi.

YONECO distributed a total of 15 bicycles to Youth Community Based Distribution Agents (YCBDAs) in the areas of Traditional Authority Mponda and Nankumba in Mangochi district.
Speaking during the handover ceremony, District Youth Friendly Health Service (YFHS) Coordinator, Chisomo Petros, applauded YONECO for the support. Petros said this will greatly contribute towards ensuring that young people who live far from health service delivery points are able to access various Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) services within their vicinities.
“Provision of services is very key in ensuring that young people are able to prevent various SRH challenges like unintended pregnancies as well as reducing the prevalence rate of HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
This gesture will greatly contribute towards reducing various SRH challenges which young people, especially those who live in rural areas and hard to reach areas face” said the YFHS Coordinator.
One of the recipients from T/A Nankumba, Luis Gama, thanked YONECO for the bicycles. In his remarks, Gama said the bicycles will enable them to reach out to many young people in his area.
“Our concern was on how we can easily reach out to young people with the services because of mobility challenges that are there. On behalf of all young people from Nankumba, I would like to thank YONECO for the support and ask other NGOs to emulate this good example,” said Gama.
The bicycles were distributed after the 15 recipients were trained on provision of SRH services. The training was conducted with technical support from the Reproductive Health Unit (RHU) of the Ministry of Health. In his remarks, the National Coordinator for Reproductive Health Services in Malawi, Hans Katengeza, urged the YCBDAs to properly take care of bicycles and to make sure that they are reaching out to as many young people as possible.
HIV and STI prevalence rate among young people in Malawi is shockingly high. This is attributed to a number of factors and among the key challenges is lack of access to SRHR services due to long distances. Thus, YCBDAs come in to close the gap by providing some SRH Services to young people within their localities.
The bicycles were distributed with support from Simavi- Netherlands through Get Up Speak Out (GUSO) Programme which YONECO and its partners in the Malawi Sexual Reproductive Health Rights Alliance is implementing in Chikwawa and Mangochi districts. Other partners in the Alliance are; Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM) Coalition of Women Living with HIV and AIDS (COWLHA), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Centre for Youth Empowerment and Civic Education (CYECE) and Centre for Alternatives for Victimized Women and Children (CAVWOC).