During the Harare Agricultural Show (Monday 27 August to Saturday, 1 September, 2018) Medecins Sans Frontieres/ Doctors Without Borders (MSF) will be providing free sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services with specific focus on people aged between 10 to 24 years.
MSF will partner with the National AIDS Council (NAC), Young Peoples’ Network on Sexual and Reproductive Health, HIV and AIDS (YPNSRHHA) to provide a range of SRH services including HIV testing and counselling, screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), contraception, general health check-ups and health information.
“As MSF, we decided to provide services at the show as a way of profiling SRH services and why they are important particularly for young people,” said Mr Brian Hove, the Project Coordinator Assistant for the MSF Mbare Project. “In Mbare, where MSF has been providing free SRH services to adolescents in collaboration with the City of Harare health department since 2015, we have seen that many young people don’t access SRH services due to a host of barriers that prevent them,” said Mr Hove.
The barriers that prevent young people from accessing SRH services include user fees, health service providers’ attitudes, stigma and discrimination, lack of knowledge and cultural beliefs. For example, adults believe that issues of sexual and reproductive health are for adults only while ignoring the fact that many adolescents are already sexually active and at risk of unplanned pregnancies, and contracting sexually transmitted infections including HIV.
“We would like to encourage young people to access SRH services which include health education, HIV testing and counseling, STI screening and treatment, and medical services for survivors of sexual violence to prevent sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy,” said Mr Hove.
“We also want to encourage parents and guardians to allow their children to visit our stand at the Harare Agricultural Show and access SRH services and information free of charge. It is better for the young people to access SRH services and prevent themselves from sexually transmitted infections than for them to be infected. If parents and guardians allow young people to access SRH services, it would also help to fight HIV and empower them to make informed choices,” explained Mr Hove.
MSF’s provision of SRH services at the Harare Agricultural Show follows on from last year’s exhibition where MSF partnered with other organizations to provide similar services to 402 adolescents.
MSF is an international medical humanitarian organization that provides medical assistance to communities in need. MSF has been working in close collaboration and partnership with the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) since 2000. Over the years, MSF has supported the implementation of medical programs, supporting the piloting and scale-up of innovative solutions towards increasing access to quality medical care and by providing medical care during emergencies.