Literature reveals that twenty years from the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), youth participation in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) policies and programs have flourished worldwide, operating at different levels from international advocacy to local interventions.
Journal of Adolescents Health shows that the Programme of Action, adopted after the ICPD in 1994, gave some initial steps in the recognition of young people’s participation. Some of these considerations are the encouragement of girl children’s participation in societies’ development; the integration and promotion of youth participation in all spheres of society, including political processes and leadership roles; the participation of young people in reproductive health programs; and the need for youth participation in the development of educational projects related to the ICPD Programme of Action.
In view of this, as the country’s largest youth network, Zambian Youth Platform (ZYP) through the Regional Adolescents Health Indaba (RAHi) provided a platform to youth led groups in Zambia to participate and also highlight challenges they face in their advocacy interventions in communities so that key stakeholders including government, non-governmental organizations among others can complement their efforts in improving health standards in various communities they are operating from.
Phenomenal Youth Association (PYA) thanked ZYP for this platform and reaffirmed the association’s commitment to ensuring that they create an environment free from stigma and discrimination especially for young people living with HIV in the country.
Speaking during the RAHi, PYA Founder and Country Director, Oswald Maffoti Chisenga said his organization was formed in order to help adolescents living with HIV accept and love themselves as well as have a sense of belonging in their communities as they live positively.
He reveals that PYA consists of adolescents living with HIV and negative adolescents but all focused on helping out young people to monitor their viral load until it reaches undetectable levels and achieves low viral loads.
He added that PYA is an extraordinary organization as it gives adolescents especially those living with HIV a platform to freely discuss on real life issues affecting them like adherence, treatment and sharing of life journeys.
“HIV issues around people living with HIV are really discussed and it is for this reason PYA as a youth led organization is doing whatever necessary to change the narrative and try to educate communities that there was no shame in living with HIV.” Oswald Maffoti Chisenga, PYA Founder and Country Director.
Chisenga further said that young people living with HIV go through a lot of things as they try to adjust to living with HIV hence the need for continued SRH services especially psycho-social support.
He appealed to key stakeholders were present during the RAHi to support the efforts of this youth led organization especially now that they are focused on reaching out to all 10 provinces within the country to creating a conducive and safe environment for adolescents and young adults living with HIV.
By Mutute Nsang’anyi