By ANDREW MUKOMA
MORE needs to be done to advance the rights of adolescents on sexual reproductive health, Medicines Research and Access Platform (MedRAP) executive director, Liyoka Liyoka has said.
MedRAP is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) whose objective is to strengthen health systems by promoting access to essential medicines in Zambia.
Mr Liyoka said access to adolescent sexual reproductive health commodities and services was still a challenge in the country.
Mr Liyoka expressed concern that religious and cultural barriers were major impediments to easy access to adolescent sexual reproduction health services.
He was speaking during an adolescent sexual reproductive health rights capacity building workshop for civil society organisations, faith leaders, health practitioners and the media in Livingstone.
Mr Liyoka said research conducted by MedRAP in Luapula and Southern provinces indicated that access to adolescent sexual reproductive health services remained a challenge.
Mr Liyoka appealed to the government and cooperating partners to improve the supply of sexual reproductive health commodities, which were vital to safeguarding the lives of adolescents.
Meanwhile, Livingstone deputy mayor John Banda adminitted that adolescent period was not an easy stage for young people and their parents.
Mr Banda said adolescence was characterised by confusion between children and their parents due to physical changes in puberty as young people wanted to learn new things.
He said adolescent sexual reproductive health was a critical issue countrywide, especially in Livingstone, which was not only a tourist capital but also a border town rife with illicit sex activities exacerbated by tourists and truck drivers.
Mr Banda called for concerted efforts by stakeholders to keep adolescents informed and healthy so that they can survive and thrive into adulthood.
He commended MedRAP and Health Action International (HAI) for partnering to implement Solutions for Supporting Healthy Adolescents and Rights Protection (SHARP) in Livingstone and Kazungula.
Meanwhile, HAI Communication Manager Ange Morey said SHARP was a four-year programme funded by the European Union.
He said the programme was dedicated to improving adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health and address their high unmet need for family planning.
Working across six countries (Zambia, Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania), the SHARP project brings together a unique group of civil society organisations, faith leaders and others.