FIRST Lady Christine Kaseba has called for condom availability and other contraceptives to young ones to prevent them from unwanted pregnancies, early marriages and contracting HIV.
Dr Kaseba said yesterday in Cape Town in an interview at a lodge where she is staying in Camps Bay area that many youths were already engaging in sexual activities and yet were excluded from a number of interventions.
She said while Zambia was a Christian nation, it was important that adolescents were protected.
“I personally feel that we should make condoms and other contraceptives available to our young ones especially in schools in view of the advent of HIV. This group is also exposed to early marriages, unwanted pregnancies and contraction of various sexually transmitted diseases.
“What is important is to furnish them with appropriate information. We need to re-strategise on our young ones because there is an increase of HIV related deaths among these adolescents. So why hold on to give them condoms in schools, why hold on to give them contraceptives and we know the consequences of not availing them these interventions,” she said.
Dr kaseba said Zambia had made tremendous progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS but it was unfortunate that the number of young ones dying from AIDS related diseases was on the rise.
She said HIV is a sexual reproduction condition and it was important to look at the root cause of HIV so that lives of the young people could be saved.
“Our current laws allows for a 16 year old to get married. So why not avail such a 16 year old with information and the tools such as condoms and contraceptives. Of course we should have the parents or guardians consent to do that but it should be done,” she said.
Dr Kaseba called for more investment in research saying even herbal medicines such as the Sondashi Formula and others could be developed and used if they proved to be working well.
She said the Sondashi Formula was currently undergoing trials in South Africa and if the results would indicate that it could treat or cure HIV, then South Africa would benefit more because Zambia would be buying the drug from South Africa.
She said the importance of research could not be over emphasised as the country would be able to partner with others in the region to research on drugs and ensure sustained availability.
She said sex workers should also be harnessed if the spread of HIV was to be reduced further.
“We don’t talk about these people because we proclaim Christian nation. But let’s look at what other countries have done. In Europe they have decriminalise sex work. They screen the sex workers for diseases so that they become official. Us, we condemn and yet their numbers are growing. Sex workers also need protection and they can get this if they are legalised,” Dr kaseba said.
She was hopeful the on-going 17th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) under the theme Zero infections, should serve as a platform for Zambia to showcase the achievements achieved so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
She reiterated that the late first democratically elected South African President nelson Mandela when he opened the ICASA conference in 2000 emphasised the need for opening up on the pandemic and from that time, Africa had seen real change as more people living with HIV started to open up.
Later the First Lady met a delegation from the Global Fund led by Executive Director Mark Dybul and a delegation from the National AIDS Council (NAC) led by Chairperson Joshua Banda.
She is today expected to return to Zambia.