US ambassador to Malawi Virginia Palmer has said keeping girls in school can be the lasting solution towards prevention of HIV in the country.
Palmer made the remarks at the National Symposium on Coordination of Adolescents and Youth (SRHR) and HIV Aids programmes in Malawi at Bingu International Convention Center in Lilongwe on Wednesday.
She said many girls were dropping out of school before completing secondary level, warning that the trend threatens the future of the country.
“If girls remain in school, there is eight percent reduction rate in HIV infection. It should be the responsibility of communities, government, girls themselves and all stakeholders in the fight against HIV to ensure that girls in Malawi remain in secondary school,” said Palmer.
The ambassador said her government is in the process of facilitating USD90 million to go towards the construction of girls secondary schools in the country.
In his remarks, Health Policy Plus country director Olive Mtema said Malawian youths are vulnerable to HIV and Aids, sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancies, child marriages and many harmful practices despite numerous HIV intervention programmes that government and other stakeholders are implementing.
Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume, using graphics, painted a shocking picture of the HIV situation in the country.
“What I see in my office is very alarming. Adolescent girls get infected by older partners and then in turn the girls infect their young partners. My appeal is up to you girls to think deeply about your future because with such a picture, I fear for the future of the country,” he said.
The symposium—which was facilitated by National Youth Council of Malawi, Ministry of Labour, Sports and Manpower Development and Ministry of Health—brought together key players who are implementing programmes involving adolescents across the country. n