Free sexual, reproductive health services offered at agric show

MEDECINS Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is providing free sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services with specific focus on people aged between 10 to 24 years at the ongoing Harare Agricultural Show.

BY PHYLLIS MBANJE

MSF is partnering with the National Aids Council, Young Peoples’ Network on Sexual and Reproductive Health, HIV and Aids to provide a range of SRH services including HIV testing and counselling, screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), contraception, general health check-ups and health information.

“As MSF, we decided to provide services at the show as a way of profiling SRH services and why they are important particularly for young people,” MSF Mbare Project assistant co-ordinator Brian Hove said.

“In Mbare, where MSF has been providing free SRH services to adolescents in collaboration with the City of Harare health department since 2015, we have seen that many young people don’t access SRH services due to a host of barriers that prevent them.”

The barriers that prevent young people from accessing SRH services include user fees, health service providers’ attitudes, stigma and discrimination, lack of knowledge and cultural beliefs.

For example, adults believe that issues of sexual and reproductive health are for adults only while ignoring the fact that many adolescents are already sexually active and at risk of unplanned pregnancies, and contracting sexually transmitted infections including HIV.

“We would like to encourage young people to access SRH services which include health education, HIV testing and counselling, STI screening and treatment, and medical services for survivors of sexual violence to prevent sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy,” Hove said.

MSF urged parents and guardians to allow their children to visit their stand to access SRH services and information.

Last year, MSF partnered with other organisations to provide similar services to 402 adolescents.

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