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Youth and adolescent sexual, reproductive health promotion programme
Student Partnership Worldwide Zimbabwe (SPWZ)
June 22, 2005

Programme background
There is a high HIV and AIDS prevalence rate in Sub Saharan Africa. In the region there are 25 million living with HIV. In 2003 alone estimated 3million became newly infected. Among young people 15-24, 6.9% of women and 2.1% of man are infected (UNAIDS, 2003). This situation impacts negatively in the social, and economic development of the region. Closer home, while the prevalence rate has generally slowed down from around 33% to about 25% in 2003, the infection rate among the youth is still increasing (MoHCW, 2003).

The reproductive health needs of adolescents as a group have been largely ignored to date by existing reproductive health services. The response of societies to the reproductive health needs of adolescents should be based on information that helps them attain a level of maturity required to make responsible decisions. In particular information and services should be made available to adolescents to help them understand their sexuality and protect them from unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and subsequent risk of infertility. This should be combined with the education of young men to respect women’s determination and to share responsibility with women in matters of sexuality and reproduction. - UN Resident Representative V. Angelo on the State of World Population 2004 (Herald, 15 September 2004)

There is need for information through health promotion activities, which include health education that are hoped to bring behaviour change in the youth, as these promote healthy lifestyles and personal well being with particular emphasis on prevention of HIV and AIDS and promotion of reproductive health and care. This is in light of the deteriorating health conditions as a result of the HIV and AIDS pandemic and teenage pregnancy – related problems coupled with inadequate youth friendly health services. The need to give the youth accurate information using effective and appropriate multi- media channels of communication is apparent. In response to the call of the Government of Zimbabwe to provide people with adequate information as presented in the National HIV and AIDS Policy and the National Youth Policy- Youth Empowerment: The Key to Development.

With this situation, it becomes necessary to have specific strategies that address these Reproductive health issues. Among adults and adolescents the leading cause of hospital mortality is pulmonary TB and serve malaria cases. Roughly in Zimbabwe one in every three people live in a malaria risk area. HIV and AIDS is the third cause of death accounting for 1 575 deaths in the population aged 5 years and over in 1996. TB is also the underlying cause for about 70% of pulmonary TB. (National Health Strategy for Zimbabwe 1997-2007).

As HIV and AIDS is closely correlated to the incidence of STIs, which impacts on HIV infection and TB, there is a need with the increasing HIV prevalence rates in the age group 15-49 for a focused HIV and AIDS information project component. Sentinel studies show seroprevalence among STI patients ranging from 24% to 60%. This is responding to sexual and reproductive health rights, which are basic human rights. These rights are;

  • Right to liberty and security of the person.
  • Right to access of highest attainable quality care in sexual and reproductive health.
  • Right to control one’s own fertility, including the right to receive information.
  • Right to marry and found a family.
  • Right to life and survival.
  • Right to non- discrimination on basis of age and gender. This means that young people both boys and girls have the same rights to confidential, safe, and acceptable sexual and reproductive health services as adults.
  • Right to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence.

Programme aim
Support the provision of Reproductive Health (RH) information to enable youth to make informed decisions during transition from childhood to adulthood and to offer health promotion activities and services that are culturally and contextually acceptable, accessible, affordable, and effective to deal with RH problems in an era of HIV and AIDS.

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