Lilongwe, 11th Decemeber 2007 –Young people from sub-Saharan African countries, along with their counterparts from Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, have been asked to make creative and realistic suggestions to improve investments in their sexual and health and HIV prevention in the next four years.
Opening a weeklong meeting convened by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Lilongwe, Malawi, the Minister of Youth Development and Sports Hon. Khumbo Kachale, emphasized the importance of putting in place programmes aimed at empowering young people in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Hon. Kachale said the fact those aged between 15 and 24, are most vulnerable to HIV, is a worrisome situation which calls for capacity building, among other strategies, for the young people to lead responsible lives.
According to Akinyele Dairo, UNFPA’s Senior Programme Adviser for Young People, “half of all new HIV infections - over 6,800 daily - are occurring among young people…Societies are struggling desperately to cope, and we must redouble our efforts to assist the to do so.”
He expressed the hope that delegates will examine and make practical suggestions on emerging issues of youth entrepreneurship, employment, the place of information, communications and technology in youth development.
Speaking in turn, the UNFPA Resident Representative for Malawi, Ms. Esperance Fundira said the meeting would assist the Fund, in taking stock of what has been done in youth programming, focusing on what is working and what changes can be made in the next four years.
“The young people are here, let us also listen to them and involve them meaningfully during our deliberations,” said Ms. Fundira.
The Malawi meeting is the first of two consultations UNFPA has organized for young people in the region to enable them share their experiences and build capacity on sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention. The second meeting scheduled for Burkina Faso for participants from French speaking African countries.
Evaluations of UNFPA supported comprehensive multi-sectoral response to sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention have shown attributable responsible sexual behaviour and reduction in HIV infection in young people. This is corroborated by the UNAIDS 2007 AIDS Update, which indicates a reduction in HIV infection among young people in 8 African countries, including Malawi.
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