On Monday 1st October 2018, Nailab held an event on accessibility to SRHR services amongst the youth. The rise of new HIV infections amongst young people is wanting, teenage pregnancy is at another level not forget the rate of abortion amongst this age group. These are things the society is trying hard to fight and stop but still haunting us daily. Then you ask the question why?
Well, we’ve not embraced the existence of new cultural and lifestyle of the 21st century for its condemned and even those transformed by the waves of these cultural wind are persecuted. I’ll say truly how it used to happen back then is totally different from now, but again we shouldn’t be rigid to change if we want to breed a generation of sexually responsible young people we need to start being involved in their daily life encounters. At Nailab the panellist Dr Gin, Dr Kigeni from UNFPA, Brenda Bakoby Maisha Youth and Brian Mukasa from Youth Advisory Council (YAC) representing young people discussed some of these issues. The issues that came up is that young people still face lots of challenges in accessing the services and even information due. These are as a result of unfriendly youth centres, language used in the dissemination of information and the value of service providers.
Take an instance wherein every 31 minors (girls) approximately 2 have been impregnated twice and several unsafe abortions in the process. Saddening enough is that out of the 31 only 10 return to school. Where are remaining 20? Probably married off early or facing the harsh claws of the world.
But those aren’t the only challenges young people face out here so as to live sexually healthy. It’s pretty sad that even the institutions like family and government that is supposed to look after the wellbeing of its citizens are caught in the nest of denying these young people the chance to be free.
Ideally, we would expect that governmental hospitals to have tons of youth-friendly centres where young people can freely access SRHR information and services but its only one that is Kenyatta National Hospital where young people feel even scared to go because of the constant cases of patients mishandling. But not only that, policies in place by the government barring these young people from seeking the services willing are dangerous and hindrance.
New policy reviewed in 2015 allows young people between the ages of 10-19 seek Family Planning service without parental consent while if in that same bracket they must seek parental consent to get HIV testing, limiting the dissemination of this information in schools yet the target group are school goers. This creates questions of who is to benefit.
It’s time that we drop our differences and perception of things and handle the issue at hand with caution. If we continue yelling and throwing words at each other (blame) game we’ll never reach the target. Kenya is a young nation because the highest population are the youth. And with the new technology, we can’t assume that they aren’t aware of things happening across the globe and even trying some of them.
There exist cultural extinction within our societies because with the new means of communication and technology there is nothing these young people aren’t aware of and they are adventurous in all way. We can explore all the avenues we have to ensure we protect and raise a generation we won’t cry or lament upon.
There are the strategies that are in play: Free toll line launched in Kisumu in 2014 which is a mobile platform and not only that we have several there is also 26690 T-safe and many more. If these could be increased even in rural areas and the network reach improved it opens a door for the scared young people to still be able to access this information and even referral to nearby health facilities.
Using social media in the creation of awareness and communication with the young people, comics and newspaper pullouts monthly ensuring they are engaged. Instead of going to sports page let them also get such information in the newspapers as we measure the impact. But the ball is on parent’s court. How often do you sit your child down? If this information taken to schools teachers will say it’s more of biology but it goes beyond that because its growth and development and they need to know how to handle and still feel comfortable in their different stages. It’s crucial and necessary shouldn’t be ignored. Why family? A child first group and life hood begin from the family and that’s where they also acquire different characteristics.
As much as you can talk to them about saving and being responsible, educate and empower them to lead and live a healthy sexual life. It’s intergenerational transfer of information. So I end if the society wants to see a change it has to get involved from point zero. No blames games lets work towards a better tomorrow.
Featured image courtesy of Celeb Gossip