Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi has added his weight to calls to improve and expand sexual health services that respond to the needs of the youth including access to contraceptives to safeguard teen pregnancies and unsafe abortion.
Young people face a number of obstacles to obtaining sexual and reproductive health services. These barriers relate to availability and accessibility as well as the quality of the services provided.
Speaking when he officially opened a Banja La Mtsogolo (BLM) clinic at Sunnyside in Blantyre on Tuesday, Muluzi said there is need to ensure young people can access adolescent and youth-friendly health services that provide correct sexual and reproductive health information, modern contraceptives, STI/HIV and pregnancy tests as well as a range of other services.
“These boys and girls are sexually active. We need universal and reliable access to contraceptives to safeguard their future,” he said.
Muluzi said teenagers do need more information and education about how to access contraception and how to use it to tprevent them picking up playground myths.
Muluzi described the new clinic as a milestone in expanding access, saying contraception has contributed significantly to reduced family size in the country.
“In the last 10 years, our population has grown by 30 percent, but our economy has not kept up with this growth. We must, therefore, look at ways to better manage a healthy and self-reliant population, particularly as we look to develop our nation out of poverty,” he said.
In his remarks, BLM board chairperson Wesley Sangala said the relocation of the Blantyre clinic from Ginnery Corner to Sunnyside opens a new door for clients in need of family planning, HIV testing and general health services.
BLM, the local arm of Marie Stopes International, has established 29 clinics in the country since its arrival 31 years ago.