THE Southern African AIDS Trust (SAT Zimbabwe) together with the Youth Aspire Development Trust (YADT) and the Population Services Zimbabwe (PSZ) yesterday held a full day community awareness campaign in Chitungwiza to sensitize young people and the community on available Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) services.
By Michael Gwarisa
In an interview with HealthTimes, SAT Zimbabwe SRHR Youth Officer Vimbai Nyika said the youth hub outreach was aimed at disseminating information on SRHR and COVID-19 since there is a strong intersection between the two components.
With the coming in of COVID-19, the uptake and access of SRHR services has been a bit compromised with young people not being able to move from point A to point B to access youth friendly services. In term of affordability, a lot of young people were relying on the informal economic activities for them to make a living and also for them to be economically capacitated to access these services. On issues around availability, not all young people know where to access SRHR services and HIV prevention services and they need them.
“We were basically just raising awareness on what services are available and where to get those services and lucky enough, PSZ is within the same areas which we were having the outreach so we were referring young people to say if you require services such as contraceptives methods and HIV testing services you know that you have somewhere to go to and you have people who are willing to save young people as well as older residents of Chitiungwiza,” said Vimbai.
In terms of information dissemination, Vimbai said there were targeting general residents and there was no specific target. They also capitalized on the outreach to distribute condoms to residents to ensure they practice safe sex even during the prevailing lockdown.
“We had two different activities that we were running concurrently. We had access to services which was happening at the PSZ offices where we had something like 50 young people who came in and they were accessing contraceptive services and getting information on general SHR and contraceptives and family planning for those who are sexually active.”
She added that the outreach also gave residents and young people an opportunity to access other health services such as COVID-19 screening, weight checks and other key health services. The SAT, PSZ and Ministry of Young also took part in a road show to raise awareness on the COVID-19 and SRH issues.
“We went to two different areas giving out information on COVID-19 and encouraging people to adhere to the World Health Organisation (WHO) safety requirements. In the same activity we were giving out condoms as well as giving consultations on some of the issues people were bringing and we were giving them information on where and how they can access the services.”
Vimbai also added that there was still a lot of work to do in terms of sensitizing communities around COVID-19 prevention measures as most people were still reluctant to wear masks and adhere to the COVID-19 prevention measures.
“The general observation we made was that not all residents are wearing masks during these times. There is need for strong messaging on COVID-19 and there is need for continuous engagement in these communities so that they understand the reason why they should wear masks, practice social distancing and avoiding large crowds.
“Then with regards to SRHR, our observation was that young people are kin to access these services. Due to issues like affordability, accessibility as well as the availability of these services, they could not access them due to the lockdown. There is need for further engagement in these communities so that everyone is on the loop regards COVID-19 and SRHR and we make that everyone is safe.”
SAT is a regional organization and present on four different countries that is Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi and Zambia. Their work revolves around young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health rights.
“Information and services that’s the first one and the second one is HIV prevention information and services as well as Gender equality and basically making sure that young people grow up in an environment that enables them to transition safely into adulthood.”
SAT also focuses on capacitating young people with information and key SRHR and HIV services to young people in districts at country level and in different countries at regional level. In Zimbabwe, SAT works with communities of young people in Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Mutasa, Chiredzi, Norton and Insiza.