Ministry of Health (MoH) through the Nkhatabay district hospital has commended Girls Empowerment Network (GENET) for complementing government’s efforts aimed at promoting access and utilization of quality Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (ASRHR) and services in rural areas of Nkhatabay district.
Speaking during the graduation of the community-based Youth Friendly Healthy Services (YFHS) and Family Planning providers (also known as community-based distribution agents-CBDAs) at Sanga World Vision Community Hall, Nkhatabay district Family Planning coordinator Shadreck Nyasulu said GENET should be applauded for helping in bridging the SRHR gap in the district.
In conjunction with government through the Nkhatabay district hospital, GENET has trained over 20 CBDAs and 100 SRHR promoters to fight the prevailing crisis of child marriage. This has happened under the ‘Marriage: No Child’s Play’ project, which the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) is implementing in Nkhatabay district with support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the More Than Brides Alliance (MTBA)- a coalition of international organizations of Save the children, Simavi, OXFAM Novib and the Population Council, which seeks to empower girls and promote quality ASRHR to wipe out child marriage.
Said Nyasulu: “We are grateful to GENET for empowering the community youth with knowledge and skills that will go a long way to improving Family Planning and YFHS distribution at the grassroots levels where access has been a great challenge.”
He described the newly-trained CBDAs, which have been drawn from the hard-to-reach areas of Traditional Authorities (T/As) Mankhambira, Fukamapiri and Fukamaraza, as an ideal structure which will help in strengthening Nkhatabay district’s Family Planning, SRHR and YFHS distribution system, particularly in rural areas.
On his part, Nkhatabay district YFHS coordinator Ruben Moyo underscored the importance of integrating SRHS and YFHS to empower young people (especially girls) with necessary skills and information to help them enjoy their health rights and fight against child marriage and rapid Population growth.
During the graduation the CBDAs received Family Planning startup commodities such as condoms and oral contraceptives like Microgynon FD fel from the Nkhatabay district hospital and bags from GENET. They were also familiarized with different health workers from their respective catchment areas to ensure easy and effective reporting mechanisms and future ordering of Family Planning and YFHS commodities from the health centers.
One of the graduates, Alick Siska described his training in Family Planning and YFHS distribution as a great relief for his area of Group Village Head (GVH) Gulugulu.
Siska said: “GVH Gulugulu is at the receiving ends of essential services such as YFHS and Family Planning due to its geographical position. But with my training as a CBDA, I will be able to bridge the YFHS and Family Planning gap, which has been exposing young people to unplanned pregnancies, Sexual Transmitted Infections (STIs) and child marriage.”
On her part, GENET’s project coordinator for Nkhatabay district Lizzie Waya said ‘Marriage: No Child’s Play’ seeks to empower girls to demand their health and education rights to fight predominant social norms and harmful cultural practices such as child marriage which perpetrate violence against girls and young women.
“What we want to see is an empowered girl who can make informed choices pertaining to her life, health, education and future,” said Waya.
She also highlighted the collaboration with other stakeholders such as Nkhatabay district hospital and social welfare, magistrate court, police and community structures as key players in GENET’s project in the district.