Recently, 11 youth focal points drawn from East and Southern Africa, (ESA) and North, West and Central Africa (NWC) Hubs, converged in Kigali, Rwanda for training in knowledge management and media training.
This was held in conjunction with Knowledge Success, during the Africa Health Agenda International Conference, (AHAIC.) AHAIC, which ran under the theme; Resilient Health Systems for Africa: Re-envisioning the Future Now brought together Africa’s top thought leaders, political figures, innovators, researchers, policy makers, health workers, ane volunteers for dialogue and action aimed at mainstreaming climate discourse into health policy conversations, and vice versa.
The youth focal points were trained in the basics of knowledge management and how to utilize data and how this is critical for the achievement of global health outcomes, as evidenced during the recent global Covid-19 pandemic, where data and information helped save lives.
“The question we should be asking ourselves is, does everyone have the knowledge they need to do their job properly and effectively?”
said Irene Kalenga, Knowledge and Communications Lead, at Institute of Capacity Development. FP2030 partnered with the Institute and Kalenga was the lead facilitator.
Young people had an opportunity to share their experiences, where information sharing is critical in determining the success or failure of a project and how digital technologies are key to reach out to young people. Issues on the agenda included: the high prevalence of teenage pregnancies during pandemics, lack of readily available information on SRH, and user-friendly platforms for adolescents and young people.
“In this age of advanced technologies, we need to note that not all young people are on the internet, and we must ensure no one is left behind,”
said Comfort Maye Chizinga, a young person from Malawi.
Malawi is a low-income country with high illiteracy and low internet penetration. So how should providers reach young people?
“We developed games as young people and had them validated by the government and civil society organizations” said Chizinga.
Malawi is also one of the most affected countries by climate change. It has experienced cyclical and devastating storms, often accompanied by floods causing mass destruction and droughts. At the same time, the country is faced with a surge in teenage pregnancy.
Jutomme Doetien, from Sierra Leone, said communities are at the center of all conversations, as all interventions start and end with them.
“Educating the community — especially in communal set-up — where everyone is connected to everyone and there is need for sexual reproductive health to be accessed in a safe and open space.”
In Rwanda local partner, Health Development Initiative, set up a toll-free hotline and they’ve seen an upward surge in young people accessing sexual reproductive health information and services.
“We discovered there was a gap in the way young people were accessing information and services because of the conservative nature of our society,” said Allaince Isimwe.
As part of its strategic plan, FP2030 works to engage and partner with young people in a variety of ways, not only pertaining strictly to family planning.
“To have meaningful youth engagement it is important to focus on capacity building, hence these trainings we had past few days,”
said Gloria Masula, ESA Hub, Youth Engagement Officer. “We hope those we trained can cascade the same learnings to other youths so that we can create a movement.” Youth focal points from ESA and NWC Hubs also recently visited Health Development Initiatives of Rwanda, as part of a south-to-south learning exchange program, where discussions focused on SRHR in Rwanda, learning about the work HDI is doing to advance SRHR for young people, and exchanging ideas on best practices.