Young  people, youth  leaders  and  SRHR  experts  added  their  voices and  recommendations  to  the  review  of  the  revised  National  Youth  Policy  draft  document in  regards to  the  SRHR  content.

The  platform  to engage  young  people  was  provided  through  the  National Youth Council of  Malawi  – http://www.nycommw.org/ with  funding  from Southern AIDS  Trust ;  with  a  focus  on SRHR  for  adolescents  and  youth  as  this  is  a thematic  area  within the  policy.

young  people  participated  in  this process  through  a  live  public  debate on Zodiack broadcasting station –  text  messages  from the  general  public  were  also  part  of it. following this a youth  leaders  meeting  from various  districts and  at  different levels in youth  work  facilitated effective  but  broaden consultation – from youth  that  the policy  will serve  but  also  as  implementors   of  SRHR  programmes  on the ground.   Also  youth voices  were  collected through various  social  media  discussions. The  consultations  finished  with an expert  meeting  which  included  key  government  Ministries,  NGO’s , partners, and  youth  SRHR  experts.

Key  issues  raised were :

lack of comprehensive  information on SRHR, limited  parental involvement  in ASRHR,  provider  attitudes and  biases  to  adolescents  and youth  –   youth  are  discouraged to  use  and  seek  contraceptives  methods, youth  friendly  health  services  sites  must  go beyond  the provision  of  condoms  and  provide  wide  range  of commodities  to its  clients, lack  of negotiating powers among girls, limited accessible  youth friendly health services

Key  issues to  be included in the policy –

Commodity security and resources for  SRHR and HIV services   adolescent  health  as  a  budget line item  with  the  health budget in the  National  budget.

Comprehensive accessible youth friendly SRHR information to  be  emphasized, gender  based  violence  in  relation to  SRHR  issues, Government to support the design, establishment, implementation of a comprehensive  adolescent and youth SRHR national program, strengthen  youth  friendly health  services and  provision of  these services, Youth  living  with HIV  , youth with disabilities and VMMC.

The policy needs to reflect the role that the community and the chiefs should play including parental counseling on issues of SRHR and HIV. It should  also re-position early on adolescents in access and  being  reached with  SRHR  programs

Harmonise other policies as sometimes contradict each other on SRHR –   Education policy vs contraceptive distribution and other services within the schools.

Other  key  stakeholders  in the process  were Ministry  of Youth, ministry of  Health – directorate  of  reproductive  health.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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