Youths are key players in the health of any country. Majority of our people in this country are in the prime age and therefore their health is a priority. Involving youths in key programs such as Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, most invariably facilitates positive change in various structures including, policies and procedures that are demand-driven to address the health needs of society, now and in the future.
Evidence has shown that young people find it difficult or are reluctant to either involve or consult their parents/guardians, family members on issues of reproductive health concerns. It is therefore, the duty of primary health care providers to support youths’ access to care and provide an enabling environment (Youth friendly corners) where they feel comfortable to share health concerns and where self-esteem is not affected. There is growing body of evidence that suggest that “youths need access to health care where they feel comfortable initiating and developing relationships with care providers and are able to raise sensitive issues related to their health and well-being”.
In this regard, Zambia Association of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians (ZAGO) has been engaging youth Organisations from many places across provinces aimed at providing a platform where they can contribute to the prevention of unplanned pregnancies, as well as unsafe abortions. These engagements, in part, inform decisions of these young people’s private life. ZAGO devised an array of strategic engagements, primarily involving training. In Lusaka, Central and Eastern Provinces, youth organisations such as Restless Development, Youth Action Zambia (YAZ), Dzuka Cholinga Youth Zambia (DCZ), Mutinta Cover Zambia (MCZ), Youth Development Foundation (YDF), George Health Centre (GHC), Itufika youth organisation, Young Men Christian Association (YMCA), GMYC, TYZ, Africa Direction have been trained and empowered with knowledge. While on the Copperbelt, youths from clinics including: Chimwemwe, Chawama, Chiwempala, Prison, Wusakile C7, Mufulira. Chaisa Urban, Mikangwa Health centre, Surburbs, Kansuswa, Clinic 1 Kantanshi, Luanshya. Others include those from youth friendly corners such as Msaka clinic, Ndola general, and Kitwe general have all been empowered.
It is worth stressing that young people are the most sexually active demographics in our society and therefore equipping them with updated information and communication skills is critical in preventing unplanned pregnancies, prevention of unsafe abortions, and thereby enhancing chances to complete their education studies and careers. Most young people acknowledge existing knowledge gap on sexual reproductive health. For example, youth in Garden, Lilanda, Mtendere, as well as Kitwe, Kabwe and other places acknowledged the existing knowledge gap that termination of pregnancy is legal in the country.
ZAGO’s campaign, “Safe Choices” is rapidly widening the scope of understanding among young adolescent people in realizing their position vis-à-vis sexual reproductive health rights. The campaign also provides platform among young and old to share experiences on the dangers of unsafe abortion.