Chipo Natasha Zulu
I've actively been involved in youth programs since 2011 targeted at risky sexual behaviour, teenage pregnancy, sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as increasing access to youth friendly services. Through these programs I've reached young people in the community, in colleges and universities to establish their needs, answer their questions and provide solutions to their challenges i.e. use of female and male condoms. More recently I've been able to raise awareness among 54 clinics on the disadvantages groups in the community they serve, enabling over 5000 girls have access to information and family planning services via a health voucher card that was created by the Population Council. An increase in demand raises awareness on the need to supply this disadvantaged population.
My passion for family planning came as a result of meeting young people who had no knowledge or access to family planning methods. In urban areas one can easily take for granted how easily we have access to health services and health information. I therefore made it my task to support and be part of programs that actively seek to ensure that all women and girls I do come across are well informed on the importance of family planning as well as where to access family planning services.
The biggest challenges I have faced is health providers attitude towards provider services to young females or unmarried women. In the last 2 years I have conducted trainings in 4 provinces in Zambia that cover values and clarification exercises and reflection exercises. These exercises challenge health workers beliefs and opinions on provision of services to all females regardless of age. By the end of the exercise the majority have realised their harshness and made efforts to be more welcoming
In Zambia the biggest challenge women and girls face is access to services. In some parts of the country organisations are able to get the towns and provide commodities however the challenge remains with finding a skilled healthcare worker to provide the service. In other parts of the country, roads are impassable and as a result females have no access to family planning services. Zambia needs to coordinate the multiple efforts that are being made by different organisations to achieve an impact.
Within the next 5 years I want to confidently be able to say Zambia women of reproductive age no longer have challenges in access family planning services within their communities; because I personally have actively led on programs that will either deliver theses services directly to them or linked them to programs that will cater to their needs.