The government of Cameroon has, through its youth and education department, launched a program to improve access to integrated reproductive health services, HIV/STI, and Covid-19 prevention among teenagers in urban and peri-urban areas of the capital.
In Cameroon, youth and adolescents in vulnerable situations, especially young females, are victims of early sexuality and are exposed to various problems including unwanted pregnancies, HIV-AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, etc.
Many of them do not know how to avoid STIs. “According to national studies, only 41% of girls and 36% of boys ages 15 to 24 had comprehensive knowledge about HIV in 2018. Among the youth of this age bracket, 36% know their HIV status, while more than 80% report having had at least one sexual encounter," says Catherine Nga Zibi, third deputy mayor of Yaoundé 2, one of the communes in the department of Mfoundi (Centre region).
As part of the new government initiative, a presentation workshop was held with local actors in Yaounde 2 to assess the plan and define priorities. The program was also kicked off last week in the communes of Bertoua, Garoua-Boulaï in the East region. The government intends to extend it to other areas by next year.
Through this initiative, we want to "provide solutions to several threats to the health and well-being of Cameroonian youth, especially adolescents, in terms of reproductive health risks, in addition to the coronavirus pandemic and the underlying problems of sexual and gender-based violence," explains Dr. Abdelkader Bacha, head of the HIV-AIDS section at Unicef Cameroon.
For François Akono Bessala, the Youth Minister Regional Delegate for the Center, “the initiative is a local opportunity to think and implement new specific strategies to improve the delivery of health care during this Covid-19 pandemic, which is further darkening the already bleak picture of the health situation of young people.”
The new project is a lever for supporting young people to enable young girls and teenagers to have a place and people to confide in, in case of reproductive health problems or infection.