WINDHOEK - Contraceptives are crucial for protecting the health of the youth who, however, often encounter significant barriers to accessing contraceptive information and services.
This leads to high rates of unintended pregnancy and increased risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted illnesses, according to Loide Amkongo of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Windhoek office.
“The lack of evidence-based comprehensive sexuality education and information hampers adolescents’ ability to make informed decisions around contraceptive use, which in turn leads to high rates of teenage pregnancy,” remarked Amkongo, who spoke at the commemoration of World Contraceptive Day last Wednesday.
Amkongo said stigma around adolescent sexuality may similarly deter young people from seeking such services.
“Meeting contraceptive needs in the context of voluntary family planning will reduce unintended pregnancies, avert abortion which would, in turn, save lives and decreases health care costs, among others.
Family planning also prevents mother-to-child transmission of HIV by reducing unintended pregnancies among women living with HIV,” she said.
Dual protection, which is the use of condoms and any other contraceptive method is essential in averting unwanted pregnancy and HIV infection, Amkongo highlighted. She also stated that the UNFPA remains ready to support the government and its partners to accelerate access to choices based on information, the exercise of rights, provision of services and reliable supplies.
At the same occasion, registered nurse, Fungai Bhera of the Namibia Planned Parenthood Association (NAPPA) youth friendly clinic in Okuryangava spoke about contraceptive methods.
In her presentation, Bhera touched on the process of the menstrual cycle, the different methods in family planning, namely male and female condoms, injectable contraceptives and oral contraceptive pills offered at the facility.
She told New Era that young people prefer to seek contraceptive services at the NAPPA clinic because “they know we are meant to be friendly and we are friendly to them,” Bhera said.
Meanwhile, Amkongo also spoke about the benefits of contraception use. “Ensuring access to contraceptive information and services has countless socioeconomic benefits and is central to achieving gender equality,” said.
Furthermore, knowledge on contraceptive use can empower women and couples to determine whether and when to have children, enable girls to complete their education and increase women’s autonomy within their households, Amkongo pointed out.