BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
GOVERNMENT has been urged to balance between its COVID-19 priorities and enhancing young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health services (SRHS).
Swedish ambassador to Zimbabwe, Berthollet Kaboru made the plea on Tuesday while addressing university students at the third edition of the national universities quiz challenge in Harare.
The event was hosted by the Students and Youth Working on Sexual and Reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT). It ran under the theme Securing Sexual Reproductive Health of Students and Young People in the COVID-19 era.
“The theme calls for decision-makers and all stakeholders to ensure that young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health services remains on the agenda even in an ongoing pandemic. Sexual and reproductive health rights remain an important issue globally,” Kaboru said.
“Sweden has a long history of prioritising sexual and reproductive health as part of its health, gender, human rights as well as sustainable development work and places great importance on sexual and reproductive health rights working with partners in countries across the world.”
Kaboru said all SRHS interventions should include young people in their diversity.
Gwanda State University scooped the best prize in the quiz challenge out of 12 tertiary education institutions that participated.
Midlands State University came second, while the Harare Institute of Technology came third.
SAYWHAT deputy executive director Vimbai Mlambo said there was an increase in teenage pregnancies and miscarriages that went unreported this year during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
“It is a testimony of a disproportion between young people’s access to reproductive health services and observing COVID-19 lockdown regulations.
“Among other objectives, the third edition of the national universities quiz challenge aims to inspire the production of new sexual and reproductive health curricula that informs a comprehensive sexuality education.
“SAYWHAT has observed with concern the rise in mental health and suicide cases alongside drug abuse. Consequentially, we have lost students to this twin scourge. I take this opportunity to urge young people and the students to desist from taking drugs,” Mlambo said.
Ashley Nyathi from Gwanda State University said the quiz competition had made it possible for students to promote awareness on sexual reproductive health issues.