Youth Reproductive Health (YRH) Programme focuses on HIV and AIDS, Family Planning, Child Marriages and Teenage Pregnancies, and Harmful Cultural practices to reduce the vulnerability of young people to HIV and AIDS and SRH related issues.
The operations of the Programme are guided by the following five key objectives:
- Promoting Youth Participation and Leadership in HIV and AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) programming,
- Advocating for improved coverage and delivery of youth-targeted HIV and AIDS and SRH Programmes,
- Strengthening stakeholders’ engagement and coordination of youth-targeted HIV and AIDS and SRH Programmes,
- Establishing and strengthening partnerships and collaboration for effective youth-targeted HIV and AIDS and SRH programming, and
- Advocating for Enabling Environment for Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.
Through these objectives, the programme contributes towards the implementation of the National Youth Council of Malawi Strategy, government policies and strategies, and advocate on HIV and AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health issues affecting the youth as young people in Malawi are faced with a number of social-economic challenges that may affect the realization of their full potential. One area where young people are greatly affected is sexual reproductive health as they are vulnerable to HIV and AIDS, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), teenage pregnancies, child and forced marriages, and harmful cultural practices.
The government of Malawi has a number of policy and strategy documents to address HIV and AIDS and SRH related issues affecting the young people. These include the: National Youth Policy, Youth Friendly Health Services (YFHS) Strategy, National HIV and AIDS Strategy, Malawi HIV and AIDS Prevention Strategy, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Policy, and Family Planning Costed Implementation Plan (CIP). All these specifically address youth access to information and services. Guided by the policies and strategies, significant progress has been made. However, recent data show that young people aged 10-24, mainly adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) are still vulnerable to HIV and AIDS and SRH challenges. The Malawi Demographic Health Survey (MDHS 2015-16) findings show that HIV prevalence in Malawi is currently at 8.8% among women and men aged 15-49. Among young people age 15-24, prevalence is 4.9% among girls and 1% among boys, showing that girls are more vulnerable than boys. SRHR outcomes for girls are further worsened by early child bearing. Rate of teenage pregnancies has increased to 29% in 2015 from 26% in 2010.
Therefore, the operations of the Youth Reproductive Health programme focusing on capacity building of youth organisations in HIV and AIDS and SRH programming, coordination of HIV and AIDS and SRH Programmes, advocating for youth involvement in key decision making process related to HIV and AIDS and SRH, advocating for effective delivery programmes of youth-targeted programmes are key as part of national effort responding to HIV and AIDS and SRH issues affecting the young people in Malawi.