A gynaecologist and senior lecturer at the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine, Charles Mhango has observed that the age Malawian youths start sexual intercourse continues to lower at an alarming rate.
Mhango has since called on policymakers to do more to reverse the trend and ensure girls stay away from early pregnancies and marriages, a leading scholar has warned.
“While we are raising the age of marriage, the age of sex debut for young girls continue to go down which means there is going to be a long period between the age people start having sex and the time they get married,” said Mhango in Lilongwe during a science café organised by the African Institute for Development Policy.
According to Mhango, girls and boys in the country were having sex debut as young as 12, warning that sexual intercourse at an early age leads to poorer psychosocial health and risky behaviour in later life
Studies have indicated that an early sexual debut is linked to exposure to pornography and sexual content in movies and others associated it with increased television watching.
Other studies have also associated early sexual debut with factors such as poor parental relationships, living in a broken home, higher levels of externalising factors – such as symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – low academic achievement and parents with low education levels.
Africa Institute for Development policy knowledge translation scientist Habiba Longwe-Ngwira said that their studies have shown that “there are weak linkages between researchers and institutions so the cafes are aimed at bringing together all players.”
The café is part of the institute’s secure health programme aimed at putting research evidence at the heart of policy and programme decisions for better health.