The interface comes barely three months after she held a similar interactive session with Malawian youth at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre where the youth presented issues that limit their access to sexual reproductive health and HIV services, leading to high rates of HIV infection among youth, teenage pregnancies and child marriages.
The session, which was supported by the National Aids Commission (NAC), UNFPA, UNAIDS, UNICEF and WHO, was patronised by 600 participants (350 females and 250 males) drawn from universities and colleges from the Eastern and Southern regions and young women and girls from religious institutions in the regions.
The interaction with the youth was part of her work as President of the Organisations of African First Ladies Against AIDS (OAFLA) which aims to promote investment in health and empowerment of women, children and adolescents and protect their rights to healthy futures. OAFLA also contributes to national efforts in preventing, managing and eliminating HIV and AIDS; reducing maternal and infant mortality; and controlling cervical cancer.
Some of the issues raised during the discussion include limited access to sexual reproductive health and HIV services caused by inconvenient operating times for health facilities which mostly open when the youth are in schools and negative attitudes of health workers. The youth also lamented that lack of contraceptives like female condoms in schools is increasing unprotected sex among young people, increasing unwanted pregnancies and spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV. They attributed limited access to contraceptives in schools to disjointed policies between the Ministries of Education and Health, saying while the Health Ministry encourages them to access contraceptives, the Education Ministry does not allow such services in schools.
During the Friday event, local shoe designer, and Malawi Broadcasting Ennovations award winner Chimwemwe Mwenyemasi is expected to to deliver a motivational speech to about 500 youth that are expecting to attend.