By: Lloyd M’bwana
The country’s sole leading youth friendly sexual and reproductive health services provider, Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM) has called government to review education policy on sexual reproductive health provision in accommodating adolescents for primary and secondary schools in a bid to reduce further spread of HIV/AIDS and early pregnancies.
The call comes amid alarming rates of HIV prevalence which has increased from 0.4 percent to 2.7 % and 3.7% to 4.2% in boys and girls respectively between 2004 and 2010 of Malawi Demographic Housing Survey (MDHS) with five years down the line cases are much further high now than before.
The MDHS further discloses that two in five new HIV infections continue occurring in young people aged 15-24 years such that 80% mode of transmission occur among partners in stable relationships whereby 1% of women and 9% of men 15-49 years have sex with two or more partners.
Most adolescents have no much access to family planning methods such that 10-40 percent of young unmarried women have had an unintended pregnancy with over 60% of all unsafe abortion and on top of that complications during pregnancy and childbearing are leading causative agent of deaths among girls aged 15 to 19 years.
This is the reason FPAM with German and Malawi Governments through GiZ and UNAIDS respectively has been piloted a three months project titled, “Narrowing the gap; Addressing Adolescents’ Sexual Health and Rights needs and challenges in Malawi”, in order to demonstrate an integrated HIV mainstreaming and continuum of care cascade model in increasing adolescents access to sexual health, HIV and unintended pregnancy prevention and rights support services in six districts including Balaka, Ntcheu, Dedza, Mchinji, Lilongwe and Mzimba South.
The project targets 1,840,203 adolescents of between 10 to 19 years and runs from October, 2015 to February, 2016 as pilot phase with possibility of turning into a full four year project which is also implemented in conjunction with SAT, DREAM,MACRO and DAPP.
In an exclusive interviews with the Maravi Post on Wednesday, January 20 at Mponera in the central district of Dowa after orienting the Malawi media drawn from electronic, print and online on the prospects of the project, Charity Kabondo, The Project Coordinator emphasized the need for up scaling of sexual and reproductive health services provision in primary and secondary schools learners which according to her was the most delicate and risk group which needs urgent attention.
Kabondo observed that the current education policy does not allow provision of reproductive health services in primary and secondary school but only provision of information as to where they can access such services unlike in high learning institutions where students are allowed to be given such services.
“The country’s education policy needs to be reviewed in order to allow primary and secondary school learners to access these services right there at their school premises as will reduce the burden of low contraceptive usage among the adolescents.
“Malawi’s future lies on these adolescent therefore if are not given right information and quality services in good time them we are sowing a bad seed whose harvest won’t be wealth ululating. So, action must start now all together.
“This is the reason we are engaging the media in helping on advocacy and up scaling information as to where our adolescents can access those services. We are hoping that the partnership will positively address the knowledge gap among young people on sexual reproductive health rights”, says Kabondo.
She however complained of culture of silence engulfed in many Malawians urging them to come open with sexual reproductive health issues for comprehensive approach in addressing them for social-economic growth of the nation through health citizens.
Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM) was registered under Trustees Incorporation Act an affiliate to International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) as a member association launched in September 25, 1999.
FPAM provides high quality, affordable comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services for young people, women and men as their rights through advocating for elimination of all barriers to access and provision of sexual and reproductive services in some district across the nation with health facilities.