KZN's new family plan targets youth

2011-10-05 00:00

FAMILY planning and maternal health will become more accessible to the youth as part of KwaZulu-Natal Department of health five point contraceptive strategy.

The strategy was unveiled by the department at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital yesterday. It aims to increase awareness on the use of contraceptives and reduce the rate of teenage and unwanted pregnancies.

Department spokesperson Chris Maxon said the key focus is to cultivate social responsibility when it comes to the issue of contraception.

“This plan is not only about women getting contraception, but it is also about boys and men using condoms.

“That is why we have a provincial task force that will be used as a tool to look at a wide approach on issues that involve contraception and education.

“We want to rally every family in the country to discuss contraception at home,” said Maxon.

Other aspects of the plan include prioritising the revitalisation of school health programmes, involving traditional healers in awareness campaigns and using cellphones to remind people to return for follow-up appointments.

This means that people on contraception will be reminded about their scheduled appointment with contraception suppliers by SMS.

Contraceptive methods will also be included at the end of “please call me” messages.

The most controversial part of the strategy targets adolescents.

Last month the country was shocked by revelations that a family planning unit in a Port Elizabeth primary school was injecting pupils as young as 10 years old with contraceptives.

Recently, a study by the Human Science Research Council carried out on children aged between 12 and 17 years old found that 17% of them were not sure where to get a condom if they needed one.

More than 52% of them acknowledged that their parents were unaware that they were sexually active.

Maxon stressed that the plan will be implemented in accordance with the Children’s Act, which states that the legal age for contraception use is 12 years old.

“If the law states that the child can come and ask for these services then we will provide them,” said Maxon.

“We are going to be educating teachers through workshops and we are already advertising posts for nurses who will be based in schools.

“We are also talking to communities because there is nothing that we are going to do without the public knowing.”

• thandiwe.jumo@witness.co.za

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