Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Youth friendly centres to curb teenage marriages

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The setting up of youth friendly centres will go a long way in arresting the upsurge in teenage pregnancies and child marriages, benefiting youths have said.

A regional information dissemination organisation, SAfAIDS, in partnership with SIDA and Buwalo Matalikilo Trust launched a youth friendly centre where they are piloting a Mobile Social Accountability Monitoring Platform for Sexual Reproductive Health services in rural Hwange.

The pilot initiative is also being done in Lesotho, Malawi, eSwatini, South Africa and Zambia.

Teenagers who spoke to zifmnews.com at Lukosi District Hospital in Hwange District say cases of teenage pregnancies and early child marriages were on the increase and the youth friendly centers will help in creating awareness.

“It has always been a challenge to get STI treatment or access contraceptives at the main hospital,” Shelton Shoko said.

“With the opening of this youth center we are now able to discuss issues affecting us freely,” Siphiwenkosi Change added.

Hwange District Medical Officer, Dr Wisdom Kurauone, welcomed the initiative.

“The community does not have access to a lot of things that urban young people are exposed to, we welcome the initiative and we hope to have more youth friendly facilities in Hwange District,” he said.

BMT supported by SAfAIDS trained 20 young boys and girls, known as Social Accountability and Monitoring [SAM] champions, in Hwange District.

The champions are drawn from seven villages namely Chilanga, Bangale, lubwedile, Dicki, Change, Mpongola and Gamba 1 & 2.

Under the guidance of Buwalo Matalikilo Trust, SAM Champions will act as key deliverers of SRH information to their peers in the community as well as Social Accountability Monitors.

They will facilitate engagement with service providers and policy makers to advocate for policy transformation in SRH service delivery based on evidence generated through the MobiSAfAIDS.