By FLAVIOR CHISHALA –
THE United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) has called for increased investment in young people’s sexual and reproductive health to enhance sustainable development.
UNFPA country representative Mary Otieno said that investing in reproductive health of the youth was crucial in addressing several development challenges facing the country.
She was speaking when the Government and her organisation launched a twin youth engagement platform on Wednesday to increase information access by the young people on sexual reproductive health.
The platform dubbed ‘Tune me and safeguard young people’ is an interactive mobisite to help young people access information, services and the networks they need to become leaders in reproductive health.
Dr Otieno said the current generation of young people was approaching adulthood in tech-evolutionary world characterised by increased use of social media but faced great health and development challenges.
She said that out of the 1.1 million people living with the HIV virus in Zambia, 121,000 were between the ages of 10 and 24.
“Over 16,000 girls got pregnant in 2014 alone and the price that these young people pay is potential loss of life and missed opportunity for personal development,” Dr Otieno said.
“But you will agree with me that this is not the life we want for our future generation.”
She said young people had rights to lead healthy lives and the platform that was launched was a demonstration of the many commitments towards investing in young people’s health and development.
Sports, Youth and Child Development Minister Vincent Mwale said the platform was expected to reach more than four million youths who would be provided with useful information on sexual reproductive rights.
Mr Mwale said in a speech read for him by his deputy Ronald Chitotela that the Government was aware of the challenges that young people faced.
He attributed them to a lack of Knowledge and the limited youth-friendly services.
Mr Mwale said the platform would enable youths to reduce challenges such as teen pregnancies, drug abuse and high exposure to HIV/AIDS as the information had now been brought at the click of a button.
“As Government we will ensure that we improve the health and well-being of the young people,” he said.