GOVERNMENT and implementing partners in the adolescent and youth reproductive health sector should efficiently utilise available resources to lessen reproductive health challenges faced by youths especially girls and young women, Family Planning Brand Ambassador, Adiona Chidzonga has called.
Fielding questions from the media, in Mutare at Mutare Youth Centre, Mrs Chidzonga said there is urgent need for all stakeholders in family planning and reproductive health sector in Manicaland to start to pull in the same direction for the benefit of adolescents and youth in the province.
With the Covid 19 pandemic and the ensuing national Covid 19 prevention, containment and treatment protocols, most families literally lost their means of survival and this negatively impacted most households resulting in youths especially girls to engage in risky behaviours such as transactional sex.
The greatest challenges our society has faced from the onset of Covid 19 are those of child marriages and teenage pregnancies. These challenges affecting most youths are emanating from the fact that a number of breadwinners are no longer able to put food on the table due to lockdowns and this has forced many young girls and women into prostitution and marriages as survival tactics.
“We do not know when this pandemic is going to go away, however, in the mean time we have to do something and urgently address issues forcing our girls and young women into prostitution and early marriages,” said Mrs Chidzonga.
The Family Planning Brand Ambassador however noted that these challenges girls and young women are facing, especially in Manicaland, are not insurmountable given the commitment government and other agencies including Zimbabwe National Family Planning have in tackling them.
She pointed out that, ‘Collaborations, getting like-minded organisations and individuals on the table and pulling resources together can fix or reduce some of these problems affecting the youth.
“It takes the whole village to raise a child, and if all and sundry in Manicaland put heads and resources together indeed we can get rid of these challenges as government and ZNFPC alone cannot salvage the situation.”
The Covid 19 induced lockdowns have seen schools closed for the greater part of the year leaving adolescents and youths with idle time to explore lives they would have not explored had they be in school. During these long layoffs, the country have seen an increase in cases and rates of drug and substance abuse, child marriages, teenage pregnancies, prostitution and school dropout among youths.