Youths from remote areas of Phalombe District have alleged that they cannot access sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and have asked the district health office to ensure that the services are available by involving youth community-based distribution agents (YCBDAs).
The district health office (DHO) is allegedly no longer engaging qualified agents who were once engaged by the hospital to provide SRH services to young people in remote areas.
In an interview, one of the YCBDAs, Sellina Ligomeka, said while all YCBDAs were willing to continue providing SRH to the youth on voluntary basis, the hospital has not been supportive.
“The reason we were identified and trained was the lack of access to SRH by the youth in rural communities. Early pregnancies, for example, were rampant because the youth lacked the necessary information,” she said.
In his reaction, acting district youth friendly health services coordinator Patrick Dyson said he is aware of the situation but suggested that handing over of training of YCBDAs to government might have delayed the provision of SRH.
Joseph Sinkhala, chief youth oficer in the Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development bemoaned the situation, saying the district council was failing to utilise development partners’ initiatives.
The YCBDAs initiative was introduced in Phalombe in 2017 by Save the Children through the DHO. However, the initiative operated effectively for only seven months only, according to Ligomeka. n