Legislators Push For Adolescents’ Access To Sexual Health Services
By Staff Reporter
HARARE – Members of Parliament are pushing for the proposed Medical Services Amendment Bill to make provision for adolescents to access sexual reproductive health care services independent of their parents and guardians.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), adolescence is the phase of life between childhood and adulthood, from ages 10 to 19.
Lawmakers say some young people succumb to Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) because they fear approaching their parents and asking them to accompany them to health facilities for treatment.
Health and Child Care Parliamentary Portfolio Committee chairperson, Ruth Labode, said the Bill should include a clause that allows adolescent girls to access contraceptives.
The issue of access to health services for adolescents has become like a broken record in which the Ministry of Health seems to be helpless. They cannot help it.
We know that our teenagers are indulging in drugs and drugs lead to you losing your capacity to control your body. This is where you hear vuzu parties, multiple partner sex.
I am saying we hear of vuzu parties where young people ages 13 to 14 are having multiple client sex, being infected and getting pregnant.
It is almost like we live in two worlds. The Ministry of Health and Child Care lives in some heaven of some kind and we live with these things every day.
We read them, they are in the press and yet we fail to do one thing, that is to handle Section 35 of the Public Health Act which restricts the child, a 15-year old, from going to get health services – yet we know because of the life they are leading, they end up with STIs and you expect a parent to take a child to the hospital and say my child has been infected with an STI, please attend to him.
Labode said while they conducted public hearings on the Bill, adolescents demanded free medical care saying as children, they do not have money. She said:
It is really sad. If you look at the numbers, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education said 10 000 pupils did not come back because of teenage pregnancies.
What are we waiting for? What exactly do you want? You want them to come and demonstrate at Kaguvi Building so that you see that the children are getting pregnant?
MP from Matabeleland North under the Proportional Representation, Lwazi Sibanda, said young people get should be given contraceptives to prevent pregnancies otherwise they will end up going for backyard abortion.
There is no one who can say children should abort or that children should bear their own children.
A child should go to the hospital on her/his own to get help, be it she wants tablets to prevent pregnancy.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, what more the street kids, do you not see that these children now are getting pregnant because the Minister is saying children should not go on their own to the hospital?.
If we say children should not go to the hospital on their own – what are we saying? Some of them are now going for backyard abortions and dying and for some of them, their wombs are getting damaged.