04 Dec 2013 16:00pm
WINDHOEK, 04 DEC (NAMPA) - The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS) and its United Nations (UN) partners launched two strategic reports on young people and HIV titled Young people today, time to act now.
The UN partners include the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation (Unesco) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The reports provide evidence-based recommendations on how to best respond to HIV and Sexual Reproduction Health (SRH)-related needs of young people in Namibia.
Launching the reports, the Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services Petrina Haingura stated that the most sustainable way to address the SRH needs of young people and win the battle against HIV is through education.
She said when young people's sexual and reproductive health needs are addressed through comprehensive sexuality education, it fosters behavioural change interventions which promote actions such as abstinence or delaying debuts, increasing condom use and reducing sexual partners.
It also promotes and empowers young people, including those who are living with HIV, to protect their health, well-being and dignity, resulting in responsible citizenship.
This is the foundation we must provide for young people. To complement this, we need to expand and improve youth-friendly HIV and sexual and reproductive health services for young people, and ensure they are accessible, the Deputy Minister stressed.
There is also a need to strengthen linkages and coordination between the education and health sectors, as well as with civil society.
Young people are of concern to both education and health sectors.
We can be more effective if we ensure the joint programming, monitoring and evaluation of sexual and reproductive health education and services for adolescent and young people. We will also have a better chance of reaching in and out-of-school youth, she stated.
According to the Health Deputy Minister, there is furthermore a need to increase the demand for services amongst adolescents and young people, while ensuring that the services offered are accessible and meet their needs.
This entails removing or clarifying legal barriers to accessing SRH and HIV services such as age of consent, and increasing awareness among young people of these changes.
Meanwhile, the reports highlighted challenges in relation to young people and HIV, which includes the fact that adolescents are the only age group where AIDS-related deaths are increasing.
Another challenge is that innovation is viewed as one critical means of reversing the epidemic amongst children and adolescents, and laws governing the age at which children can consent to marriage, to sex and to reproductive health services are key challenges in Namibia.