At least 5, 000 adolescent girls and over 3, 500 young women in Southern region are set to benefit from Young Voices of Malawi project dubbed: Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) which aims at increasing access to contraceptive methods among young women and adolescent girls.
Speaking in an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana), Programme Manager for Young Voices of Malawi, Emmanuel Namponya said contraceptives help to mitigate unwanted pregnancies that fuel unsafe abortion; hence, the project is aimed at empowering young women and girls to access contraceptive methods and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services.
“We will be working with traditional leaders, religious leaders, women and young girls in the southern region to bring awareness of SRHR issues including dangers of unsafe abortion, demystifying issues around abortion and demand for the enactment of Termination of Pregnancy Bill through media engagement, advocacy meetings, dialogue sessions, and community outreach,” Namponya said.
Namponya added that there is need for collective efforts in order to improve access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health rights.
National Coordinator for Malawi Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Alliance, Hastings Saka said there is need to increase access to SRH information to young women and girls because these are vulnerable groups and also need special health care.
“This project has come at a good time and it will help adolescent girls and young women to avoid unplanned pregnancies, child marriages, curb HIV/AIDS prevalence, fistula, mental health problems and other health related hazards. The beneficiaries are encouraged to use this opportunity wisely because it has huge benefits to their health,” Saka said.
Saka added that there is need to increase access to comprehensive sexuality education and life skills education in schools because this empowers adolescents to have self-esteem, assertiveness and reduce school dropout rate.
In his remarks, Executive Director for Malawi Health Equity Network, George Jobe commended Young Voices of Malawi for the project, saying SRHR can help to mitigate maternal mortality and morbidity rates and unplanned pregnancies among adolescents.
Jobe said Malawi is one of the countries with the highest maternal mortality rates in the world but that it can be mitigated by 2030 with National Health Policy towards universal health coverage.
The SRHR project is being implemented in five districts of Mwanza, Blantyre, Nsanje, Mulanje and Chikwawa.