Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi has amplified calls for expanded access to contraceptives to safeguard the youth from sexual and reproductive health (SRH) challenges, including teen pregnancies and unsafe abortion.
The minister was speaking when he officially opened a Banja La Mtsogolo (BLM) clinic at Sunnyside in Blantyre on Tuesday.
Muluzi said it is time for parents to realise that contraceptives are meant for everyone, even the youth.
“These boys and girls are sexually active. We need universal and reliable access to contraceptives to safeguard their future,” he said.
According to the 2015/16 Malawi Demographic Health Survey (DHS), 19 percent of women and girls who want to use contraceptives cannot access them.
The unmet need is disproportionately high among the youth and the DHS shows the rate of teen pregnancies shot from almost 25 percent in 2010 to 29 percent in 2015.
Muluzi described the new clinic as a milestone in expanding access, saying contraception has contributed significantly to reduced family size in the country.
“In the last 10 years, our population has grown by 30 percent, but our economy has not kept up with this growth. We must, therefore, look at ways to better manage a healthy and self-reliant population, particularly as we look to develop our nation out of poverty,” he said.
In his remarks, BLM board chairperson Wesley Sangala said the relocation of the Blantyre clinic from Ginnery Corner to Sunnyside opens a new door for clients in need of family planning, HIV testing and general health services.
BLM, the local arm of Marie Stopes International, has established 29 clinics in the country since its arrival 31 years ago. n