Malawi youths demand sexual health ‘special rooms’ in hospitals

Mzuzu Youth Association (MYA) has expressed concern over the lack of special rooms for young people in the country’s hospitals, a thing which deters many from accessing Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) services.

MYA Secretary Harris Kanyeremuka said lack of special rooms for HIV and STIs testing for young people in the hospitals has resulted in some not accessing treatment.

“Youths feel uncomfortable to access services like HIV and STI testing and treatment, Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) and condoms in the same room with the elders,” Kanyeremuka said.

He added that most youths prefer youthful health personnel to the elderly ones.

“Most Young people find it easy to solve their health problems with fellow youths; for instance, demanding for condoms, family planning services and, sometimes, HIV Testing.

“They feel comfortable when it is their fellow youth offering the services,” he said.

Kanyeremuka cited poor communication between the youths and health personnel as one of the major factors turning away the youths from accessing sexual and reproductive health services as they feel shy.

“Sometimes elder health personnel insult young people when they contract sexually transmitted diseases,” he said.

On this note, he said efforts have to be made in implementing what is incorporated in National Youth Policy which was launched in 2013 which advocates for youth friendly services.

He asked government to allocate enough funding to the health sector to ensure that special rooms for youths are created in public hospitals for them to be motivated.

Coordinator of Voluntary Service Overseas, Geoffrey Kumwenda, concurred with Kanyeremuka saying as a result the youth end up in early pregnancies, marriages and being infected with HIV and STIs.

Head of Policy Support and Development at National Aids Commission, Dr. Adrina Mwansambo said it is very unfortunate that this is still happening in some of the country’s hospitals.

She said government came up with youth friendly health services to encourage young people to access SRH services in a friendly environment.

Dr Mwansambo added that government would make sure that the staff working in youth friendly services are sensitized and trained on how to handle the youth as regard HIV testing and counseling.

These challenges have been exposed after Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO) had a three-month program on awareness campaign in various schools in Mzuzu City to improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes among the youths.

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