Government has reiterated its commitment to upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, including the youths as demonstrated by the numerous international conventions, declarations and agreements that the country has signed.Several non-governmental organisations, including the Southern Africa HIV and AIDS information dissemination service (SAFAIDS) in partnership with Womenâ€™s Action Group, a students and youth group working on reproductive health issues called SAYWHAT, Padare Menâ€™s Forum and Patsimeredu Trust have come together and will be working on a project called â€˜investing in young people is investing in the futureâ€™, in a bid to scale up access to sexual and reproductive health and rights for adolescents and young people.
Unveiling the project, SAFAIDS country representative, Ms Monica Mandiki said even though Zimbabwe has adopted a number of policies to address sexual and reproductive issues, full implementation of the policies has been insufficient.
She attributed the shortcomings to cultural and social taboos that prevent most parents from discussing sexual issues with their children.
â€œUnder this project we hope that the prevailing barriers where parents find it difficult to talk about sexual issues with their children are addressed. We need to educate our children so that they know how to take care of themselves,â€ said Ms. Mandiki.
The project will run for 3 years in five selected provinces and the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare will have the primary responsibility to provide and co-ordinate sexual and reproductive health services.
The Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Henry Madzorera said young people aged between 10 to 24 comprise nearly 36.4% of the countryâ€™s population and represent the future generation of Zimbabwe, hence the need for governmentâ€™s cooperation.
â€œAs government, we embrace the efforts by the NGOs represented here. Zimbabwe is signatory to a number of international conventions and declarations and their domestication has led to the formulation of key national policy documents,â€ said Dr. Madzorera.
The project is being funded by the European Union which contributed about US$3 million and participants will include policy makers from relevant government ministries, service providers, media personnel, opinion leaders, young people and their parents who have been identified to be key players in scaling up access to sexual and reproductive health and rights for young people.