Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Adolescents and Young people remain the worst hit by the number of new HIV infections in Zambia

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Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo has said adolescents and young people remain the worst hit by the number of new HIV infections in Zambia.

Ms. Masebo said high HIV infections among youths poses a great danger to the future Zambia seeks to guarantee sustainable national development.

Officiating at the commencement of the 3rd Regional Adolescent Health Indaba (RAHI) in Lusaka Province, Ms. Masebo said there is a need to dramatically reduce new HIV infections and HIV related deaths.

“Through shared research findings; expert panel analyses; focused group discussions; feedback sessions; art and entertainment, these indabas have allowed adolescent and young people to reflect on the past, current and future state of their health. Through such indabas young people freely assert their health priorities on Sexual and Reproductive Health, HIV and AIDS, STIs, sexual and gender-based violence, non-communicable diseases, alcohol and drug use. I do commend the Zambia Youth Platform for advocating for continued consideration of adolescents with special needs to enhance inclusive adolescent health programming.Realising the significant impact made by the past Regional Adolescent Health Indaba in shaping adolescent health services, we directed that in 2023, similar meetings should be held at provincial level. This was meant to solicit input from adolescents living in other provinces and districts outside Lusaka. It is because we believe that all adolescents including rural youth should be part and parcel of the conversation around the adolescent health agenda and Zambia’s vision 2030,” she said.

Ms. Masebo continued:”I am aware that the Provincial adolescent health indabas have been successfully held in all the ten provinces of the country. From the northern end to the southern end of the country you have all rallied around the theme “closing the tap of new HIV infections through meaningful youth engagement, innovation and Leadership.” The theme sits well in a country context where adolescents and young people remain the worst hit by the number of new HIV infections. This situation poses a great danger to the very future we seek to guarantee sustainable national development. UNAIDS Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026 asserts that, it is intersecting inequalities that fuel the HIV epidemic and block progress towards ending AIDS. By reducing these inequalities, we will be able to dramatically reduce new HIV infections and HIV related deaths. This is especially so for most at risk populations including adolescents and young women and men.”

Ms. Masebo pledged that the Ministry of Health will endeavour to address these challenges affecting youths in relation to health such as inadequate health facilities which have adolescent health spaces and Gender Based Violence One Stop centres.

“Going forward, we pledge more support towards strengthening adolescents and young people engagement at all levels. Achieving quality adolescent health for all demands that all stakeholders rise to the occasion and fully support adolescent health as a matter of priority. I therefore call upon our traditional leaders, the clergy, political leaders, implementing partners and civil society organisations to be part of this key body of stakeholders. I call upon all of you to be the drivers of the change that we need.It is my firm belief that the Regional Adolescent Health Indaba shall be utilised to identify opportunities and solutions to all our health challenges. Through adolescents and young people’s unique perspectives and ideas on matters that affect them as individuals, we shall find, as a collective, means of addressing adolescent health priorities,” she said.

Ms. Masebo further asked youths to be the champions of good health.

“To you my beloved youth, let us be the voice of the voiceless; let us be the champions of good health; let us be the drivers of preventive health services as opposed to curative services; let us be the actual doers of what we propose to do and let us be leaders of the new generation which is health conscious. There is so much power in you! As I look around and see the many faces here, I see a movement of powerful young people who want to have their voices heard. I see a movement of powerful young people who want to have their ideas listened to. I see a movement of powerful young people who want us to realise that they are a mighty force, ready to act on HIV and on the social issues that are preventing us from making progress around adolescent health. I further see a movement of powerful young people who want the world to accept them as they are and for who they are. I see a movement of powerful young people who want to stay healthy and be disease free. I see a movement of powerful young people who want to show their talent, strength and conviction to lead,” Ms. Masebo said.

1 COMMENT

  1. We need to lead by example in the fight against hiv. I test myself every 1 December and my results can be made public at anyones request. Why doest masebo lead by example by getting tested publicly?

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