Hamu calls for intensified action on teen sexual health

12 Jun 2017 18:10pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 12 JUN (NAMPA) – There is no better negotiator than a boy who wants sex, therefore male youth should not be left out of discussions and educational interventions on sexual reproductive health.
This was the contribution of a male participant during deliberations on teenage sexual health in Keetmanshoop on Monday.
The meeting was organised by the HIV and AIDS Management Unit (Hamu) of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture and the Ministry’s Directorate in the //Kharas Region.
It comes on the heels of statistics released by the Directorate that indicate 101 schoolgirls in the region fell pregnant in 2016.
Hamu Deputy Director, Julius Nghifikwa advocated for the establishment of a regional task force to deal specifically with health issues of young people.
“The latest estimates for Namibia show that 43 per cent of new HIV infections are among youth aged 15 to 24 and 60 per cent of these are girls. The situation is dire,” he stressed.
According to the 2014 National HIV Sentinel Survey, the country’s HIV prevalence rate stood at about 17 per cent.
Noting that around 1 400 pregnancies are recorded in Namibian schools each year, Nghifikwa said the team will be tasked with implementing the Comprehensive Sexuality Education programme into the existing school curriculum.
The programme is a result of a commitment made by Eastern and Southern African countries at the end of 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa, to strengthen efforts around the sexual health of young people.
Hamu is advocating for the establishment of committees in all 14 regions of Namibia.
Early indications in //Kharas are that the education directorate will decline to establish a new committee, opting instead to include the ideals of the proposed task force into existing structures dealing with similar issues.
The education directorate’s Kalahari Circuit Inspector, Connie Wantenaar concurred that efforts had to be intensified to curb new HIV infections and pregnancies among young people.
“However, we need the resolute involvement of our parents and communities in guiding our children outside the school walls,” she added.
A school principal highlighted the proliferation of shebeens and access to alcohol as a contributing factor to risky behaviour.
//Kharas Governor Lucia Basson’s Special Advisor, Hansina Christiaan said efforts should include out-of-school youth above the age of 18, “who just roam the streets without any help”.
Keetmanshoop Mayor Gaudentia Kröhne said it has become more evident that young people are unable to take charge of their sexual health.
“It can also mean that there are external forces coercing them to fall into the trap of unwanted relationships, leading to pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections,” she added.
Kröhne called for increased coordination among stakeholders and regional bodies in and outside schools.