In an effort to engage with key implementing partners working with adolescents and youth around HIV and AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Programs; The National Youth Council of Malawi (NYCOM) in collaboration with the Ministry of Labor, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development (MoLYSMD) and the Ministry of Health (MoH) - Reproductive Health Directorate (RHD), on June 28th – 29th 2017 hosted a National Symposium on the Coordination of Adolescent and Youth-targeted HIV and AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Programs in Malawi, at Bingu International Convention Center (BICC).
The Youth Sector organized the symposium in a move to review the existing coordination mechanisms and make recommendations to improve and strengthen coordination, collaboration in implementation and monitoring of adolescent and youth HIV and AIDS and SRHR interventions in line with relevant sectoral policies and the overarching Youth Friendly Health Services (YFHS) Strategy.
Graced by the Minister of Health Hon Dr Peter Kumpalume, MP and the US Ambassador to Malawi Her Excellency Virginia Palmer, the function saw representatives from various Youth entities bemoan serious flaws in use of the national systems, programs and procedures. Chiefly noted was the tendency of certain partners bypassing government structures and the little prioritization in funding key institutions and structures with key role in HIV and AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health programming. In addition to that, the Young generation also highlighted how the current financing arrangement are not based on the priorities of government policies and strategies.
The 250 people who attended the function also got to hear how young people are sidelined whenever it comes to participation and leadership in HIV and AIDS and SRHR programming. Also highlighted was the ineffective coordination of stakeholders and programmes as some structures are not effective due to gaps in membership, weak mandate, and lack of financial and technical capacity among others.
The youth sector further went on to give out key recommendations on the observed flaws and problems. To ensure that the Council has the required skills set, equipment, systems and structures in place to be optimally functional, it was recommended that Government and Partners should increase technical and financial support to coordinating institutions and structures.
Furthermore it was recommended that Government through its Ministries, Agencies, and District Councils should establish a routine and enforceable Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) beyond DEC system with partners (not only bilaterals) that clearly spells out the programs being carried out, specified catchment areas, and standard of operations.
On youth participation, it was highlighted that consideration should be made to have a basket fund which will fund innovative and high impact interventions by youth-led organizations as one way of promoting and sustaining youth participation and leadership.
The government was further implored to see to it that NYCOM is buttressed to the ground with both financial and technical support to effectively and efficiently regulate all youth networks, associations and organizations on reporting, monitoring and evaluation for improved governance, oversight, and capacity building for greater youth participation in programming, implementation, and fiscal prudence by youths.
Numerous recommendations were further tabled and most of them emphasized on developing a minimum standardized package for training of young leaders and advocates guided by existing various curriculums and that development partners and NGOs should provide meaningful and comprehensive capacity to youth NGOs including providing grants.