Blantyre, First Lady Dr Getrude Mutharika has called on all stakeholders in the country to address the gap of access to essential reproductive health information and utilization of Reproductive health services among the youths.
Madam Mutharika who is the President of the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV and Aids (OAFLA), was speaking at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre during an interface meeting with youth on Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) and rights and HIV prevention.
Dr Mutharika said investing in sexual and reproductive health services specifically tailored for the youth is a key source of development and harnessing the country’s demographic dividend.
She said, “Nothing for youth without youth this time around. It is important therefore that youth should no longer be on receiving end but be a priority in every development taking place in any country.
“It is evidenced that youth are facing challenges in accessing sexual reproductive health services in Malawi and my call is let all services come closer to the youth.
“In my capacity as president of OAFLA, I will try to intensify advocacy for more concrete actions on the HIV diagnosis, advocacy and educating the youth, treatment, care and support among other interventions.”
Dr Mutharika said Malawi has great expectations from youth when it comes to their health as such they should be given priority and space to show their potential.
“Our premise is that, if we help young people to know their bodies, they will make good decisions that will benefit them in the present and in future. Good decisions that will help them ward off HIV and STIs as well as early and unplanned pregnancies.
“It is vital that players in the health sector in Malawi led by government ensure that as many places as possible can offer youth friendly sexual and reproductive services.
“Research indicates that our youth are struggling to access sexual reproductive services as such this new knowledge must inspire us to take action and empower Malawi youth to fight back.
“One of the most powerful weapon that we can employ in our fighting back is investing in youth friendly sexual and reproductive health services,” she added.
Later, President Professor Peter Mutharika made a surprise visit at the gathering where he made a motivation talk.
Professor Mutharika said as a youth champion for Africa, he will continue to make sure that youths in Malawi are being helped in creating employment and making sure that education should be a priority.
Professor Mutharika advised the youths to have patience and hardwork saying the two are behind the success of everyone.
“What I can say is please work beyond your competitor and be ambitious. Above all be disciplined people and think positively on issues to do with your country.
“My government will not leave youths alone. Shortly we are expanding University loan programme so that we can accommodate as many youths at higher learning,” he said.
First Lady Dr Getrude Mutharika is also expecting to have an interface meeting with youth on sexual reproductive health and rights and HIV prevention in Central and Northern Regions.
The Southern Region interactive session attracted youth from all public and private universities including youths from churches of all denominations.
Source: Malawi News Agency – MANA