Advocacy Core Team Applauds Parliament For Bold Stance On Adolescents Access To Health Services

THE recent move by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and the Thematic Committee on HIV and AIDS to request the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) to amend section 35 of the Public Health Act of 2018  has set the tone for more engagement and advocacy with other key stakeholders, the Advocacy Core Team (ACT) has said.

By Patricia Mashiri

Section 35 of the Public Health Act of 2018, limits young people below the age of 16 from accessing health services including sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services in the absence  of an adult or guardian.

The Advocacy Core Team (ACT) petitioned Parliament in September last year seeking the age of consent to be removed so that adolescents can access health services in an initiative which seeks to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies, early marriages and eliminating new HIV/AIDS new infections.

In an Interview with HealthTimes on the sidelines of a Communicators Forum Launch Workshop,  Munyaradzi Chimwara from ACT said they were satisfied with the steps taken so far by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and the Thematic Committee on HIV/AIDS and the parliament in general.

When Parliament amend section 35 of the Public Health Act, the CSOs who are pushing for this amendment will continue engaging government and the Ministry of Health and Child Care in the following areas: Provide technical support to the Ministry of Health and Child Care to make sure policies are put in place for smooth roll out of SRH for adolescent girls and young women.

“We make government accountable for the safe delivery of SRH services. We also need to continue lobbying development partners like PEPFAR and Global Fund to provide financial resources to help the government of Zimbabwe to implement the provisions of the new act,” said Chimwara.

He added that there is need to advocate for Ministry of Health and Child Care through the Ministry of Finance to increase Human Resources for Health to provide care and support to adolescent girls and young women seeking SRH services at facilities.

"Generally, as petitioners we are happy with the steps taken so far by the Parliament,” Chimwara said.

The Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Health and HIV released a report after conducting public hearings country wide. The report however shows that the general public is concerned with the upsurge in cases of teenage pregnancies, early marriages because the adolescents have become more sexual active.

The reports also notes that most things that the adolescents are driven by poverty, exposure to technology and lack of adequate information on SRH among others.

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