The Government of Zambia has scaled up the provision of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) services in Luapula and Southern Provinces.
Adolescent pregnancy and child marriage has significantly been high in the two regions over the past years with Southern province recording teenage pregnancy rates as high as 42.5% while Luapula posted 21% as captured in the Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS 2018).
A new study conducted by Medicines Research and Access platform (MEDRAP) in conjunction with the Health Action International (HAI) as part of the European Union (EU) funded project called Solutions for Supporting Healthy Adolescents and Rights Protection (SHARP), has revealed that the Zambian Government, through the Ministry of Health (MoH), has made steady progress in ensuring availability and access to Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ASRHR) in the two provinces.
The study titled, Adolescent Friendly Health Services in Zambia: Healthcare Workers Perspectives on Barriers and Services offered, was conducted in 182 health facilities in the two regions.
Sharing the report during a training workshop on SRHR in Samfya District of Luapula Province on Tuesday, MedRAP Executive Director Liyoka Liyoka said the study reavealed that 91% of the surveyed facilities provided AFSRH services without permission from guardians.
Mr Liyoka said the study also found that 96 percent of the facilities were easily and safely accessible by foot or public transport, thereby allowing easy access to the SRH services.
“From the results of this study, it can be said that in general, the government of the Republic of Zambia, through the Ministry of Health, has made progress in meeting government obligations to respect, protect, and fulfil the ASRHR of all people, including adolescents, in Zambia. In most thematic areas assessed during the survey, statistics show commitment to improving ASRH services in the public health sector.”
“For example, 91% of the surveyed facilities provide AFSRH services. These services were offered without permission from guardians in 97% of the surveyed facilities. This study also found that 96% of the facilities were easily and safely accessible by foot or public transport (according to the HCWs), while 97% of the healthcare workers also indicated that they were comfortable with providing contraceptives to both married and unmarried women, and discussing sexual health matters with adolescents. Availability of dedicated staff offering AFSRH services was recorded in 83% of the surveyed facilities,” Mr Liyoka said.
The MedRAP executive Director, however, said the study further found that monitoring of performance of Health Facilities was low with about 20 percent of public health facilities indicating that no government official visited them in a year, while the private sector’s performance was worse in most thematic areas cited.
Therefore, the report has recommended that Government officials should conduct regular visits, increase transparency and ensure active participation of citizens, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), communities and adolescents themselves in decision making processes related to the delivery and monitoring of SRH services.
It also calls for increased investment in training peer educators and providers, as well as training younger Healthcare Workers (HCWs )to take charge of Adolescent Friendly Sexual Reproductive Health services.
Furthermore, the report call for the need to incorporate AFSRH in the training curriculum of nurses and other HCWs, and that the provision of Adolescent Friendly Sexual Reproductive Health services in both public and private facilities should be standardised while increasing visibility of the services.