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    As the government and other non-governmental organizations are working hand in hand to combat the rapid population growth in the country by sensitising people on the use of family planning methods, many young people in Karonga District who mostly engage in early marriages and child bearing are shunning the use of contraceptives since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the district.

    In an interview with Malawi Gazette, Youth Friendly Heath coordinator for Karonga District Davis Chelewani said the family planning initiative was making a good progress in the district since the youth used to access family planning methods in different heath facilities.

    However, Chelewani expressed a concern that since the coming of COVID-19 pandemic the numbers have dwindled significantly, a development which has become a big challenge for them.

    “There has been a good progress as most centres have registered a high number of youth turn up to access different contraceptive methods. But of late the numbers have dwindled due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.” Chelewani said.

    “The overall uptake of services have been going down comparing with the data that we accumulated pre-Covid-19 period.” he said

    Chelewani then suggested the need for them to conduct awareness campaigns in various communities and schools to remind the youths on family planning methods to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the district.

    Mhango: Understanding the importance of the services has always been a problem due to myths

    In a separate interview, project officer at Pamoza Tingakwanisa Youth Organization for Fiska Ulato project, Gomezyani Mhango, said they have introduced and linked youth clubs with health centers that they work with in order to easily access the services.

    “The aim of the link is to create a friendly environment for the youth and the health facilities in order for them to easily access the family planning methods.” Mhango said.

    However, she said there is a link between literacy levels and use of contraceptives because understanding the importance of the services has always been a problem due to myths surrounding some of the family planning methods, thereby making people shun their use.

    Samartha Muthali one of the youth in the district said sometimes they are unable to access the contraceptive methods because of fear and humiliation by friends and family members.

    Meanwhile the services are being offered in 21 health centres in Karonga district. There are efforts to increase investment in family planning programs countrywide with the aim of achieving the family planning goal which is to see 60% of girls using modern contraceptives by the year 2024.

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