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Invest in youth HIV programmes – PPAZ

A health worker holds a bottle of antiretroviral medicine at the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital in Freetown, the capital. The medicine is being dispensed to a 15-year-old HIV-positive girl, for her seven-day-old newborn. The drug is part of a regiment of treatments and tests intended to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV. In March 2011 in Sierra Leone, the country commemorated the ten year anniversary of the end of its civil war, which left 50,000 dead and 10,000 amputated. Although progress has been made since the wars end, Sierra Leone still ranks at the bottom of the 2010 Human Development Index. Health centres remain under-resourced, and medical care remains too expensive and inaccessible for many people. The countrys under-five mortality rate is fifth highest in the world, maternal mortality is among the worlds worst as well, and over a third of children under age five suffer stunting due to poor nutrition. According to 2008 data, only 49 per cent of the population uses improved drinking water sources, and only 13 per cent have access to improved sanitation facilities. Education systems are also deficient, with an insufficient number of schools and trained teachers. Girls face additional barriers to education, including high rates of early marriage and teen pregnancy, extra fees, and sexual abuse and exploitation in schools. UNICEF is working with the Government and partners to improve conditions for Sierra Leones children, supporting programmes that train teachers and school managers and that strengthen community-based health systems. UNICEF also supports a Government programme, launched in April 2010, that abolishes fees for primary health services for pregnant and lactating women and all children under age five.

MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka  
THE Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ) has called on government and the private sector to invest in social reproductive health programmes to reduce the increasing rate of new Human Immune Virus (HIV) infections among the youths in the country.

And PPAZ has urged the youths to engage in productive ventures  that will prevent them for ilicit behaviour.
Speaking in an interview with the Sunday Mail in Nchelenge district, PPAZ executive director Nan’gandu Kamwale said boredom among the youths has greatly contributed to their involvement in illicit sexual behaviour.
“Most of our young people have nothing to keep them busy hence they end in having sex. Statistics have also shown that compliance levels in relation to HIV testing among the youths in our country are very low.
Meanwhile, the ministry of health will soon launch a ‘Know your status’ campaign which is aimed at improving service provision of Human Immune Virus (HIV) treatment and reducing the increase in the rate of new infections among the youth.
Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya has urged traditional leaders across the country to partner with government in sensitising citizens on HIV testing.

 

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