Authorities working with the youths in Karonga have underscored the need of equipping young people with peer education knowledge as one way of promoting Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) among the youths in the district.
In an interview District Youth Officer (DYO) for Karonga Lapken Liwago, said issues of SRHR among the youth are significant in as far as development is concerned as the aim of peer education is to promote the health status of young people in becoming productive citizens.
He further said peer education provides the youths the opportunity of improving their knowledge, attitude and skills about reproductive health and HIV prevention hence promoting zero tolerance in sexual activities.
“Adolescents like to discuss issues that matter to them in a relaxed atmosphere as a result of the interactions feel free to share their own issues thus peer education is vital in promoting issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights among youths,” he said.
Concurring with Liwago Youth Friendly Health Services coordinator for Karonga Davis Chilawani, said a lack of openness among the youths coupled with inadequate trained personnel in health centres in the district is a challenge in incorporating Youth Friendly Health Services hence the importance of peer education.
Adding that inadequacy of the trained providers has also affected quality service delivery to the youths across the health facilities as a result most young people especially in the rural areas shun away from services such as HIV testing and counselling.
According to Programs Manager for Pamoza Tingakwaniska Youth Organization, Gomezani Mhango, who are carrying out Wanangwa wane project in Karonga and Chitipa Districts, when people of the same age discuss issues the effect of it is more as compared to discussing it with adults hence the significance of imparting knowledge and skills to youths on peer education.
“When it comes to issues of sexuality and abstinence we know young people feel more free when they are discussing it with fellow peers therefore among others in the project the major goal of peer education is to equip young people with basic but comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and skills vital to engage in healthy behaviors,” Mhango articulated.