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Eradication of poverty and increased education are among key factors in dealing with early sexual activity among adolescents, Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Constantino Chiwenga has said.
VP Chiwenga said this when he appeared before a joint sitting of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care and the Thematic Committee on HIV and Aids on adolescents’ access to sexual reproductive health services.
The Vice President said statistics showed that children, especially girls from vulnerable backgrounds were likely to engage in early sexual activities, enter into child marriages and have early pregnancies.
“As we are discussing, let me make it very clear that the minors aged 12 or 13 or even younger are having these problems. We are very aware,” he said.
“The issue of child sex workers we are aware and various strategies are being formulated to try and address that problem and it’s an issue which we should all look at.
“Fundamentally it is an issue of education, communication and eradication of poverty that is key. Once we look at the fundamentals, the causers we reduce these cases.”
He said the Ministry of Health and Child Care was in the process of amending the Public Health Act which would incorporate stakeholder views on improving adolescents access to sexual reproductive health services.
VP Chiwenga said the ministry was guided by the Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health Strategy 2016-2020 in responding to sexual reproductive health challenges faced by adolescents. He said the strategy offers guidelines on the provision of age appropriate sexual reproductive health services.
“The underlying principle of the strategy is in the provision of services that are in the best interests of the child given their presenting circumstances.
“The aim is to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with sexual reproductive health activities among adolescents and young people through; increasing safe sexual health and HIV practices; increasing uptake of quality youth friendly integrated sexual reproductive health and HIV services; strengthening the protective environment of adolescent and young people,” VP Chiwenga said.
Other strategies include provision of friendly sexual reproductive and health services as an entry point for expanding adolescent health, establishment and creation of community based spaces for parent-child communication on sexual and reproductive health, capacity building for both pre and in-services health workers to provide friendly and age appropriate sexual reproductive health services.
Meanwhile, the mission director for the United States Agency for International Development Mr Art Brown yesterday paid a courtesy call on VP Chiwenga at his Munhumutapa Offices.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting they were committed to assisting the country especially in the health sector.
“We have just met the Vice President and we expressed our commitment to development especially in the health sector.
“We are committed to improving the human progress in the country, but it’s important that we focus on the human resource issue; nurses, doctors and other personnel making sure that they are being paid. Resolving that issue is critical because we have a lot of investments that we have made and we want to make sure that the system is going to support the health needs of Zimbabweans,” he said.
He added that the Vice President had told them that Government was working flat out to address the welfare issues of the frontline health workers.