Youth from the Central Region took time to challenge and question experts on Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) issues during an interface meeting with the First Lady Gertrude Mutharika and SRH stakeholders.
Over 500 youth from the region were mobilised by Family Planning of Malawi (Fpam) to participate in the meeting which took place at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on Friday.
One sticky issue which came out during the meeting was that of side effects of contraceptives where one of the youth from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar), NRC Campus, Maria Nyoni, wondered whether stakeholders asses contraceptive drugs before ‘imposing’ them on people.
“My question goes to Fpam: Do you people test the contraceptive methods before giving them out to people, because I think it is unfair to subject people to dangerous drugs that, instead of helping, they cause more health problems,” said Nyoni.
Fpam executive director Thokozani Mbendera, in his response, played down cancer as one of the side effects of contraceptives, calling it one of the myths of contraceptives.
He argued that people just make wrong conclusions about their conditions without really understanding the cause.
He, however, did not completely rule out the possibility of contraceptive drugs having negative effects on users. In her statement, the First Lady said while accessing contraceptives is a right to the youth, they also need to know that it is better to abstain from sex before marriage.
She said: “I know that many girls are only thinking about using contraceptives to prevent pregnancies. Remember, contraceptives do not protect you from HIV and Aids. The sexual decision you make within a second or minute can cost your life or can guarantee you a bright future. So, be wise, and make wise choices.”
This was a second meeting where the First Lady has had an opportunity to interact with the youth on matters of SRH.
The first one was on April 1 at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre for youth from the Southern Region.
United Nations resident coordinator, Mia Seppo, commended the First Lady for engaging the youth because this is one way of ensuring that no one is left behind as the country is striving to move forward in good SRH provision and also combating HIV and Aids.