The government has pledged its commitment to forge a strong partnership with Malawi and Mozambique aimed at improving the provision of cross-border sexual reproductive health services for migrants, young vulnerable people and other interest groups.
Eastern Province Permanent Secretary, Paul Thole made the pledge when he opened a three-day tripartite meeting on Sexual-Reproductive Health Rights-HIV Knows No Borders in Chipata.
The meeting that has brought together representatives from Mozambique, Malawi and the host Zambia seeks to review identified key challenges in addressing health, migration and other non-health issues affecting the three border Countries.
Speaking in a speech read for him by Eastern Province Assistant Secretary, Clement Chilembo, Mr Thole said access to health by cross-border migrants is currently a challenge due to a lack of consistent and strong coordination mechanisms.
“This challenge is exacerbated for irregular migrants due to fear of detention and deportation. Similarly, provision of other services to enhance the protection and well-being of migrants such as safe and age-appropriate detention, representation and access to appropriate and effective case management remains a challenge,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary said that the meeting will foster the improvement of access to Sexual Reproductive Health services for the people in the three Countries when they cross borders.
“This tripartite cross-border meeting will build on our existing capacity to combat barriers to quality services to migrants as they are most at risk,” he said.
Traditional leaders from Zambia, including Chief Pembamoyo, Chieftainess Mkanda, Chieftainess Kawaza and a representative of Chief Madzimawe, Induna Lukezo, are also attending the meeting.
The Sexual-Reproductive Health Rights-HIV Knows no Borders is a regional initiative implemented by the International Organisation for Migration in partnership with Save the Children.
The initiative is aimed at improving the quality of life and HIV/Sexual Reproductive Health Outcomes among vulnerable youths, migrants and sex workers in Southern Africa, covering six countries that include Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia.