BY CYNTHIA JOSEPH
Inadequate reproductive health information among the youth in my home county of Migori has led to the high numbers of unintended pregnancies among the teenagers. This will be especially the case as young people settle back home for the school holidays.
The youth involve themselves in sexual activities without protection just because there isn’t adequate information about Sexual and Reproductive Health around them to guide their choices and decision making.
Some of them could get access to condoms but there is a lot of stigma around openly getting the condoms. Many also don’t know how to correctly use the condoms. This has led to young people contracting sexually transmitted infections including HIV and not forgetting the alarming number of unplanned pregnancies recorded annually from the youth.
Because they lack adequate information on HIV, sexual and reproductive health, young people do not seek medical attention once they get infected with these venereal illnesses thus increasing their chances of infecting others.
The unintended pregnancies also result in a number of school dropouts and early marriages. This way the community loses a lot of the young energetic youth with bright futures and hope.
I am appealing to the County government of Migori, through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, special programs and the Ministry of Health to consider construction of resource centers in the county, especially in Nyatike sub county and around the lake, and equip them with relevant learning materials for the youth. This is because we lose a lot of these young people around the gold mines of Nyatike and the beaches within Nyatike and beyond.
Also consider development of youth friendly service points in every public health facility to ensure the youth find it easy to access and utilize the public health services available. This will also make it easier to run health campaigns and targeted health education exercises to ensure the knowledge about reproductive health is increased within the youth in the remote parts of the county.
Remember, Article 35 of the Kenyan Constitution gives right to access of information as this is seen as a fundamental to sound decision making. We will have done our youth a lot more justice by creating these health information access centers within their reach.
Cynthia is a youth advocate at NAYA Kenya in Migori County