LINDA NYONDO, Lusaka
SAFAIDS country director Gaston Zulu has urged Government to review the age at which a child should be allowed to have access to sexual reproductive health (SRH) services from the current 16 to 10 years.
Mr Zulu says the mere fact that children as young as 10 years fall pregnant is enough evidence that some of them become sexually active at a tender age, hence the need to have SRH services revised so that they will not have to get consent from parents and guardians before having access to it.
Established in 1994, SAfAIDS, which is a regional non-profit organisation, promotes effective and ethical development responses to SRH, HIV and TB integrated with livelihood strategies; through advocacy, communication and social mobilisation.
“A service provider should not be blamed for denying a 13-year-old contraceptive or other sexual reproductive services because the law states that any child under the age of 16 has to get consent from parents in order for them to get services,” Mr Zulu says.
The Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service believes the provision of sexual reproductive health services to teenagers will only be delivered comprehensively as and when policies are revised.
However, Mr Zulu says the message of improving sexual reproductive rights among children should be two-fold; to promote abstinence as well as increased provision of sexual reproductive health services for youths who are sexually active.
And a leader of a youth organisation called Her Choice, Chonzi Mulenga, said most parents cannot allow their children to have access to contraceptives and other sexual reproductive health services because it is a taboo culturally.
“Most parents are deeply rooted in cultural beliefs that they cannot allow any of their children to have access to sexual reproductive health services. Some parents will never accept that their children can ever be sexually active,” Ms Mulenga says.
She has called for the harmonisation of child policies in the country to guide service providers over the provision of sexual reproductive health rights.
LINDA NYONDO, Lusaka