By Edward Makuzva
Zimbabwe Community Health Intervention Research Project Behaviour Change (ZICHIRE-BC) is targeting youths in sports initiative as a platform to raise awareness on key issues impacting their lives including HIV and AIDS, drug abuse as well as Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) issues.
In an interview, on Saturday during the under 21 challenge soccer league invitational tournament at Prince Edward grounds, ZICHIRE-BC, Programs Manager Christina Gonese said young men have vulnerabilities that expose them to HIV and other negative health problems.
Gonese added that the initiative aim to reach out to young men and youths with comprehensive Sexual and Reproductive Health messages.
She said the SRH program is using sports is an entry point to young people who face barriers to reproductive health information and care. Even those able to find accurate information about their health and rights may be unable to access the services needed to protect their health.
“Adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health must be supported. This means providing access to comprehensive sexuality education; services to prevent, diagnose and treat Sexual Transmittted Infections (STI) and counselling. It also means empowering young people to know and exercise their rights – including the right to delay marriage and the right to refuse unwanted sexual advance.
“Young women have many health programs and initiatives that seek to address their vulnerabilities and improve their wellbeing. The end result is there being empowered girls who end up in relationships with young men who are not empowered”, Gonese explained.
The Programs Manager highlighted that ZICHIRE-BC has introduced the Brotha2 Brotha program, that aims to address the problem.
ZICHIRE-BC, together with other partners, they have come up with Sports Fun fairs, that utilise sport to mobilize young men and impact wide-ranging SHR messages.
During the Fun Fairs, HIV testing services and voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) services are provided. Young men are put into groups and they have group sessions on SRH issues that affect them.
Millions of young people around the world, the onset of adolescence, not only bring changes to their bodies but also new vulnerabilities to human rights abuses, particularly in the arenas of sexuality, marriage and childbearing.
The event that saw 8 teams competing in the ZICHIRE and Gtel tournament was won by DC Academy after beating DZ Academy 2-1 in the finals.