Save Environment and People’s Agency ( SEPA ) chief executive officer, Mailes Muke says a number of youths are at high risk of having poor sexual and reproductive health (SRH) due to myths surrounding the subject.
Ms Muke says poor or no access to sexual reproductive health education and services, among others, have had a significant negative impact on adolescents with compounded vulnerabilities as well as young people living in low-income communities.
She says the effects of sexual and reproductive health are worse for young women, who are disproportionately affected.
Ms Muke said this today in Zambezi Town, Wednesday, during the launch of the sexual reproductive health rights (SRHR) project under the Make Way programme.
“Being aware of sexual reproductive services has many benefits to young people. It can prevent unintended pregnancies, mental health diagnosing and transmission of sexually transmitted infections among others,” she said.
Leveraging on government laws and policies on human rights, health and education as well as the recent introduction of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health in schools by the Ministry of Education, her organisation will focus on increasing public awareness on SRHR by working with communities, schools and government to protect children from sexual violence.
“Our goal as SEPA is to increase awareness by providing accurate and appropriate information. We believe that this is the only way we can promote free and equal access to quality comprehensive sexual reproductive education and services such as family planning”, she said.
And FAWEZA program manager, Faith Minja has urged SEPA to focus on breaking the barriers that hinder young people from accessing the information on SRHR.
“You must focus on enhancing sexual and reproductive health outcomes for the most marginalised young people including people who face multiple vulnerabilities, ” Ms Minja said.
Make Way programme is a five-year programme that runs from 2021 to 2025 with objectives aligned to the national reproductive health policies and programmes in Zambia with the aim of reducing barriers to SRHR information and services without leaving anyone behind.
Meanwhile Zambezi district commissioner, Simeon Machayi has commended SEPA and FAWEZA for supplementing government efforts in ensuring that young people have access to critical information that borders on their lives.
Mr Machayi said the government will continue to support initiatives aimed at addressing the challenges most young people are facing in the country.
He said the launch SRHR programmes in the district will help reduce cases of HIV/AIDS as well as harmful practices such as early and child marriages which he said the area district is grappling with at the moment
“We have a high number of early marriages and HIV/AIDS cases in our district. My hope is that the launch of this programme will help to reduce some of these challenges,” Mr. Machayi said.