As one way of exercising their right to health, youths from some areas in Mangochi summoned duty-bearers and service providers to present their challenges in accessing health services.
Led by Developing Radio Partners (DRP), a non-governmental organisation implementing a United States Agency for International Development (USaid)-funded Health Policy plus Project, the youth took to task parliamentarian for Mangochi Monkey Bay Ralph Jooma (People’s Party-PP) and chiefs, religious leaders, among others, on why they are failing to negotiate with government to bring health services close to them.
“We are falling prey to early pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections because we are far from Monkey Bay Rural Hospital where we could access family planning services. Surprisingly, this is happening under your watch,” said Yvonne Takulamusi, team leader of Youth Take Action Group.
She said youths are dropping out of school or entering into child marriages after being impregnated which could otherwise been avoided had they accessed sexual reproductive health rights services.
“As vulnerable as we are, we cannot manage to find money for transport (from Msaka area) to go to Monkey Bay Health facility. This forces us to engage in unsafe sex, resulting in unplanned pregnancies and dropping out of school,” she added.
“We have invited you to help us. We want to use your influence to lobby government to bring mobile outreach health services in our areas and we challenge that early pregnancies and child marriages will be history in the area,” she said.
In response, Jooma pledged to take up the issue with government and other partners to help bring the said services to the youths in the area.
DRP consultant Chikondi Moyo said the project aims at raising awareness on sexual and reproductive health rights among the youth in the community to help them access the services.
DRP in partnership with Population Reference Bureau (PRB) is working with Dzimwe community radio to implement the project in Monkey Bay, Mangochi.
The project is also being implemented in Nkhotakota and Mchinji districts.