Echoes from the village

An Implication of COVID-19 Response and Preparedness

The COVID-19 crisis is rapidly confronting us all with health risks, social changes, and an uprooted daily life. With a race against time to stop infections; sexual feelings particularly among adolescents have not gone down. The harsh reality at this time is that adolescents who now have a lot of time at their disposal could engage in irresponsible behaviours leading to an increase in unprotected sex. The likelihood of the ‘inexperienced’ parents engaging their children in this topic is in limbo. The question is, do they have right information concerning the matter? Are they well equipped to handle this topic? What or who will they turn to? The fact is that adolescents and young people still need the right information to enable them make informed choices. The pandemic has in no way suspended that right. Right to access to reproductive health information and services is now more pertinent more than ever.These factors could possibly increase Sexual reproductive health challenges like teenage  pregnancies.

 As corona virus becomes a threat to the safety and health of our communities across the world, we at County Youth and Adolescent Network (CYAN) Kenya want to express our solidarity during these difficult times. We know it is easy to forget sexual and reproductive health rights for teenagers and adolescents at this moment. However, it is also paramount that mitigation measures to stem the spread of the virus should also include innovative and integrated programs that will continue to provide evidence based sexual and reproductive health information and services to adolescents and young people during this period. As a young led organization, we have taken the necessary steps to adjust our operations in response to COVID-19 and to make sure we are able to continue integrating relevant SRH and COVID-19 information to Adolescents and young people through online community and appropriate community referral and linkages. In this regard, we have embarked our engagement on online platforms through Facebook, WhatsApp groups and Twitter.

Accomplishment

In the WhatsApp platforms there is designated trained youth champion handling questions and referrals related to COVID-19 and reproductive health, including gender based violence. Due to fear of infection and stay at home directive which has hold young people captive, we do demand creation for condom uptake where those interested get in private discussion for arrangements and delivery. Once this is settled on, organisation team arrange with MOH for condom acquisition then delivers to the client. Through partnership with Amref Health Africa in Kenya, AfRika  and MOH, we have reached  1421 young people, out of this number,112 Adolescent and young people have been issued with condoms since March 2020. These numbers are tabulated on weekly basis.

In their effort to ensure promotion SDG 3.7, Amref Health Africa in Kenya through the Delivering Equitable and Sustainable Increases in Family Planning (DESIP) Project and AfRika, consistently capacity build CBO members as Homabay County Champions on areas of Social Accountability Framework Development, Social Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC), peer educators as well as AfRika Champions. Through AfRika access relevant and factual SRHR information at their comfort.

Call to Action.

Any unprecedented surge in sexual reproductive health definitely place a huge burden to the healthcare system that is already overstretched by the pandemic. The likelihood of loss of socio-economic stature of adolescent and young people as a result of stigma, rejection or violence by partners, parents and peers is a huge factor. Worse still, premature death resulting from unsafe abortion is a likely outcome. And if sexual and reproductive health services are not embedded now as part of national and local responses to the ‘New Normal’ , in the coming months we are likely see a rise in sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies. In an effort to fast track control of this pandemic, we call upon the county and national government, CSOs, like-minded individuals and organisations to;

1. Identify ways to ensure minimum disruption to the provision of comprehensive sexuality education, counselling and services for infertility, prevention and management of reproductive cancers, and sexual health —  including menstrual health

2. Include young people in your COVID-19 preparedness and response decision-making processes at the national, sub-national and local levels;

3. Ensure continued access to quality essential and integrated sexual and reproductive health services, including modern contraceptives, as well as the prevention and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

4. Be alert to evidence of sexual and gender-based violence, and other harmful practices.

5. Engage youth led organisations to ensure continuity of service,

6. Build capacity of youth led organisations to support peer led information sharing,

7. Build capacity of health care workers to support youth sensitive and responsive services.

8. Also  develop behavioral models that are youth centric to fight the pandemic.

Any backward trend in access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services will not only devastate the lives of millions of adolescents and young people but also slow down the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, which are crucial for creating a more equal, prosperous and sustainable world. This crisis shows how dependent we are on one another. We must not allow it to feed exclusion and isolationism. The only long-term solution has to be a global solution.

County Youth and Adolescent Network(CYAN Kenya)is a registered youth led Community Based Organization(CBO) founded with the view of involving rural young people in participating in the discovery transmission and preservation of morals and stimulate the reproductive health life, economic and cultural development of communities in Homabay county, Suba south sub county. Since Inception, we endeavor to build the capacity of the rural youth to be the architects of their own development and be part of the progressive global efforts for sustainable development. We are a volunteer Organization that develops and utilize the skills and experiences of volunteers in creating real Impact and change in the Community. The global values for community empowerment that drive us, that guide us, that install our hearts and minds all.

Contact :[email protected]  P. O BOX 25— 40308 SINDO.TELL: +254742089104

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