Posted by Justin on January 25, 2018

What was conceived as an idea to respond to concerns of rising cases of sexually transmitted infections and other health complications being presented late by young people in clinics in Mongu District of Western Province, has today evolved into a vibrant organization championing a full package of adolescent and young people’s health and socio economic rights.

Adolescent Reproductive Health Advocates (ARHA) was a brain child of the Mongu District Health Management Team (MDHMT) who initiated it in 1999 based on concerns of late reporting of cases of STIs and other reproductive health problems for medical and counseling services by young people.

Boasting of a staff complement of 24 and 550 volunteers, ARHA has expanded its frontiers from Mongu to cover six additional districts of Senanga, Kaoma, Kalabo, Lukulu, Sesheke and Shangombo.

ARHA Coordinator Mubita Muyunda told a National HIV/AIDS/STI/TB Council (NAC) team which was in Mongu on Tuesday last week that his youth friendly organization was now poised to achieve its vision of creating a rural and urban community of adolescents and young people well informed and empowered with skills and socio-economic opportunities to address gender issues, human rights, being able to prevent themselves from early and unwanted pregnancies and from exposing themselves to the risks of HIV and other STIs, thus contributing to the reduction of new disease incidences in Zambia.

ARHA has three broad programme focus areas which are; Health, Livelihood and Empowerment and Governance and Human Rights.

Under the health pillar, HIV prevention, mitigation, care and support take centre stage. Additionally, the health programme provides an opportunity for young people and their communities to have access to quality, accessible and affordable health information and services through the household approach, scaling up mobile health services in hard to reach areas, youth friendly services and strengthening and continued support to community and school based action clubs.

The livelihood and empowerment component focuses on entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability and disaster mitigation. The governance and human rights programme area deals with civic engagement as well as advocacy for adolescents and other young people’s well-being.   

Mr Muyunda shared ARHA’s key achievements as being; conclusion of the baseline survey on adolescent pregnancies in Western Province, training of 540 in school adolescents in life skills education, training of 199 adolescent girls in assertiveness and negotiation skills, establishment of functional resource centers and youth friendly centres in  Mongu, Lukulu and Kalabo. Over 18, 000 adolescents and young people have accessed sexual reproductive health Services.

At national level, ARHA has been part of the formulation of the National Peer Education for SRH Standards, chaired the National Youth Network on Population and Development (NYPD) for two consecutive years, and participated in the review of the National Youth Policy while it participated in the formulation of the draft National Standards for youth friendly health services.

Prepared by the NAC Communications Unit