The reigning Miss Malawi beauty queen Tionge Munthali is now the official face of Banja La Mstogolo (BLM) in fighting to increase the access of contraceptives to the youth as she is the champion of sexual reproductive health and youth rights.
The beauty queen, a student at University of Assemblies of God in Lilongwe, moderated a panel discussion on September 26 aimed to spread the word about contraception and safe sex.
The panel discussion had Donald Makwakwa (BLM), Mary Mulombe (Reproductive Health Service department), Reverend Dr Jones Mawerenga, Inkosi Mabilabo and Jessica Mandanda (youth representative).
BLM held the panel discussion to get views from stakeholders on how best to increase access to modern contraceptives for young people as well as increase awareness and uptake of contraceptives.
“There should be no barriers to information, education and access to contraception wanted and needed,” said the Miss Malawi.
She emphasised, however, that abstinence remains the best method for the young and unmarried persons.
Miss Malawi said sexual awareness is so important, especially to young adult who need to know how to be healthy and safe and to know where to seek advice and help.
Reverend Dr Jones Mawerenga cited Holy Bible in Hosea 4:6, “My people perish or are destroyed due to lack of knowledge, because they have rejected knowledge.”
He said contraception works well when both partners are fully committed to it.
A Consultant Obstetrician Gynaecologist said in an interview there are many couples who although not on any form of contraception, do not wish to conceive now, saying this high unmet need for family planning is due to many factors including lack of knowledge, fear of side effects and partner or religious opposition.
“These barriers affect adolescents worse than any other age bracket. Additionally, frequent stock-outs of some or all methods and lack of subsidisation for some methods e.g. hormonal coils, reduces alternatives available to couples especially in the lowest income brackets.”
The Gynaecologist said there is need for policy and implementation dialogues to address these gaps to increase uptake of contraceptives.