BY YVONNE MIYAWA, EMMANUEL WYCLIFFE, PURITY KARIMI AND JERONIME OBWAR
The health of a city is seen in the health of its people, especially the youth. Young people must be aware of and own their power and let their faces be seen and hold the government accountable.
Africa will not develop without its youth. The best asset that any government, local or national, has is its people – more so its young people.
Last month, Kisumu County hosted the Africities Summit, and we saw young people involved in some of the deliberations, especially those involving healthcare. But will these discussions and “words” translate into real actions?
The young people of Kisumu, myself included, expressed high hopes for the Summit, especially since Kisumu Governor Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o is a former Health Minister and his interest in healthcare has always been evident.
Kisumu County has a few self-described Youth Friendly Centers (YFCs), but how friendly are these services? As a young person from Kisumu, when I hear youth friendly services (YFS) my thoughts are based on:
- Commodities: Availability, what is the uptake and retention of the commodities among young people
- Functionality: Are the YFCs fully equipped, are the personnel youth friendly)
- Best Practice model: What has worked in other YFCs and what needs to be improved).
Youth friendly centers are safe spaces for young people to access services and information. The great city of Kisumu County should invest and allocate resources to ensure quality provision of Youth Friendly Services in the youth friendly centers to train service providers as this will address the issue of attitude and stigma from the service providers that hinders young people from seeking services from the centers.
The county must also conduct community sensitization on YFS for young people to have information especially those from the rural areas as most of the sexual and reproductive health issues like teenage pregnancies and STIs infection will be addressed.
The county government, CSOs and other stakeholders should also ensure commodities are available and the cost of STIs medication is subsidized. We also need service providers to be flexible to offer services beyond normal duty time and even during weekends.
Finally, the young people of Kisumu are the majority population, and a healthy young people equals to more votes and a healthier political, social and economic future!
Miyawa, Wycliffe, Karimi and Obwar are youth advocates based in Kisumu County