Optimistic 2024! As last year posts milestones
Published On January 2, 2024 » 964 Views» By Times Reporter » Features
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AS we bade farewell to the year 2023, various stakeholders are very optimistic of achieving milestones in Reproductive Health and Rightsthis year, both at community, district, provincial and national levels.
The year 2024 presents an opportunity to build on the reproductive health and rights gains that were attained last year.
Ireen Chikatula, a reproductive health and rights advocate recently conducted an open Focused Group Discussion (FGD) with young people that unpacking issues concerning the high prevalence of HIV, reproductive health and rights, and knowledge sharing about HIV prevention and control.
With optimism, Ms Chikatula said, “I am excited about this youth group and the big things they are set out to do in our community come next year, with regards to youth empowerment programs. Can it be 2024 already?”
A peep into last year’s activities and recorded milestones clearly shows that Zambia is on the right trajectory to achieving its goals in sexual and reproductive health.
Let’s now highlight these gains.
As it has always been the trend, adolescents are particularly susceptible to both non-communicable and communicable diseases, such as sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and AIDS.
This was compounded by the fact that not all Zambian adolescents had access to adolescent responsive health services, especially in regard to reproductive health and rights.
However, several interventions were implemented to protect adolescents and to improve their health status.
The Government launched theAdolescence Health Strategic Plan for the period between 2022 to 2026, and National Community Strategy of 2022 to 2026 a few months ago.
The two documents will seek to increase the number of health facilities with functional adolescent friendly spaces from 964 to 1,550 by 2026.
During the launch of the documents, Health Minister Sylvia Masebo said the strategic plans were tailor-made to reach out to every young person in the country.
“I would like to bring to your attention the mammoth tasks that the Community Health and Adolescent Health units have embarked on. These units have contributed to universal health coverage by combining realistic community health services to the door step,” Ms Masebo said.
In 2023, Zambia became one of a few countries around the globe to sign a declaration to the Family Planning 2030 Commitments (FP Commitments).
Ms Masebo said signing the declaration “Is aclear indication of our Government’s commitment and seriousness to the leaving no one behind agenda.”
Among the key steps that the Government would undertake after signing the declaration would be to align national FP strategies with the global and regional commitments anchored on the principles of harnessing the demographic dividend for adolescents, young women and women as espoused in the African Union 2030 and 2063 agenda.
In addition to that, the country alsosaw the development of an Integrated Family Planning Costed Implementation Plan (2021- 2026).
This plan was focused on repositioning Family Planning as not only a health issue, but as a factor in national development.
With the Government commitment to see to it that every young person’s voice was heard, provincial adolescent health indabas were successfully held in all the ten provinces of the country.
Adolescents from across the country rallied around the theme “closing the tap of new HIV infections through meaningful youth engagement, innovation and Leadership”.
The provincial conferences were followed by the 3rd Regional Adolescent Health Indaba (RAHI) in Lusaka.
At this regional meet, Government pledged more support towards strengthening adolescents and young people engagement at all levels as drivers of the change they need.
Another milestone to have graced the year 2023 was the development of the National Child Participation Framework.
This policy is meant to promote and advance child participation and fulfillment of their rights, that include reproductive health and rights, as provided for in the Children’s Code Act.
With all these achievements last year, 2024 promises more and more improvements in reproductive health and rights as we draw closer to the Vision 2030.
I sign out by wishing you a happy and prosperous 2024!
Until next week, keep your comments coming to moseschimfwembe@ gmail.com

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