Lack of information in Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) is affecting the rural youth in the country as they are more vulnerable to getting infected by HIV, according to the National Youth Council of Malawi (NYCOM) Executive Director Aubrey Chibwana.
In an interview with Nyasa Times, Chibwana said the large gap between the urban and rural youths on SRH information is rendering the later disadvantaged and more affected when it comes to HIV and AIDS.
Chibwana said that this is so because a lot of NGOs are working in the urban areas than the rural communities.
“The urban youths are able to demand youth friendly SRH services from the hospitals but when it comes to the rural areas, you will find out they don’t have proper information and ways to do the same a development which is leaving them at high risk of HIV and AIDS,” he said.
He also said lack of resources as a major factor regarding the youth to have access to SRH services.
“The country’s health sector is passing thorough some economic problems and because the rural youths are unable to demand some services, you will always find out that they are excluded from the meager resources available to the hospitals,” he said.
To address the problem, Chibwana said the organization has out in place plans to reach out the youths at community level to empower them on sexual reproductive health.
“We want to conduct a peer to peer program whereby the youth from a particular area should be able to civic educate each other and also be able to demand friendly youth services from the health facilities,” he said.
Malawi’s young people lack knowledge and skills when it comes to their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and the services available to them.
The Malawi National Youth Policy stipulates that young people have the right to access SRH information and services, while the Ministry of Education (MoE) policy does not allow the distribution of family planning products in schools with health facilities being critical site for youth interventions.
In Malawi, UNFPA’s Safeguard Young People (SYP) programme recognizes that health workers are at the core of youth-friendly services.
This is why SYP has supported the Ministry of Health (MoH) with training 120 health service providers on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (ASRHR) and youth-friendly health services (YFHS).