Despite growing commitment from stakeholders in the health sector, low uptake of sexual and reproductive health services among young people remains a challenge in Mzimba North.
As such, according to experts, lives of most young people continue to be threatened by sexually transmitted infections including HIV and Aids, teenage pregnancies and unsafe abortions.
Speaking at Elengani Community Day Secondary School, Mzimba North Family Planning Coordinator, Ndindase Maganga, said family planning is still associated with myths and misconceptions, a situation which negatively affects the flow of information.
“In terms of youth accessing the services, we are not doing well and I think we should reach out to our partners to sensitise many young people, because there are a lot of myths out there about family planning,” Maganga said.
She added that most young people fear that when they are using family planning methods, they will not be able to conceive.
Meanwhile, Family Planning Association of Malawi (Fpam) is implementing a ‘She Decide Campaign’ to promote and enhance fundamental rights of girls and women.
Fpam Coordinator for Mzuzu, Alinafe Chasowa, said the organisation is implementing the project in Mzimba North after noticing that girls and women in the location have difficulties to make decisions related to family planning.
“We sat down with chiefs and local leaders and we agreed to engage the community through open days so that they should have information and make choices regarding their sexual and reproductive health,” Chasowa said.
Chasowa further said young people have responded to the project well as they have started demanding family planning services.
Malawi is one of a few countries in Africa to have implemented youth-friendly health services from as early as 2007 through the Ministry of Health.
Nevertheless, accessing the services, particularly in rural areas, remains a challenge either because of insufficient information or unavailability of the services.