Youths in Kilifi county have cited stigma as a barrier when accessing services in youth-friendly facilities.
According to the youths, cultural beliefs is also a critical challenge in accessing the same services.
Addressing the media in Kilifi county over the weekend Safe Community peer educator Lucy Nyawira added that young people undergo a myriad of challenges when accessing youth-friendly services.
She notes that most of the facilities in charge are unfriendly to young people
“I met hell during my first visit to a youth facility in my neighbourhood. I was treated with a lot of suspicions and that is what drove me into peer education,” lamented Nyawira
Nyawira notes that some YFS has queues adding that this is an embarrassment to young people seeking youth-friendly services.
She says she has been at the forefront in championing for the rights of young people especially in accessing youth-friendly services.
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At the same time, Dream Achievers Youth Organization programs officer Gaetano Muganda cites poverty and cultural belief as one of the challenges facing young people in accessing reproductive health care services.
According to Muganda, reproductive health requires a multifaceted approach.
“Kilifi county has a detailed reproductive health policy that addresses challenges facing young people. Due to budget constraints, youth-friendly services are inadequate at the county level,” he explained.
He called on health sector stakeholders to come on board and chat a way forward so that young people can access sexual reproductive health services within the county.
Gaetano adds that following the gaps in the reproductive health sector the organization has partnered with other organizations to address the challenge of youth-friendly facilities.
Pwani Youth Network Executive director Alfred Sigo echoed a similar sentiment saying cultural beliefs and tradition pose a blow to youths who are in dire need of sexual reproductive health care services.
He further wants the Kilifi county government to increase reproductive health budgetary allocations to suffice the needs of young people.
Sigo lauds efforts by the county government in formulating a reproductive health policy that addresses challenges facing young people.
“Kilifi county, like the national government, has one of the best reproductive health policies. This will go a long way in addressing youth matters,” he said.
We are now seeing Kilifi county refurbishing some of the YFCs so that young people can access services. This is a good step ahead,” said Sigo.
On his part, Safe Community Youth programs officer Stephen Kibindio lashed out at some of the health officials in charge of YFC accusing them of lack of commitment.
“75 per cent of the YFC in charge are not trained on provision of Youth-friendly,’ noted Kibindio.
He points out that Covid 19 has negatively impacted most of the meetings with county staff adding “most of them are normally not available when we want to meet them.
Kibindio revealed that Malindi sub-county is a new hub of HIV AIDS pandemic.
He lauded the county government for their allocations towards upscaling youth-friendly facilities.
“For the first time we the county has allocated 7.2 million and 2.6 million for the upgrading of youth-friendly facilities. It has further committed to injecting a total of 5.2 million for youth-friendly facilities in this financial year.
Dream Achievers Youth Organization executive director Seif Jira said Kilifi county locals have responded positively to the program considering the impacts in the community.
According to him, the county is currently renovating 4 youth-friendly facilities to scale up the delivery of youth-friendly facilities.
“This program began in 2019 focuses on youth-friendly facilities so that we can address some of the critical challenges facing young people,” he said.
Jira, however, lashed out at the county government saying most of them do not meet the standards.
Efforts to reach out to the chief officer in charge of the department of health in Kilifi county did not bear fruit.
Meanwhile, Kilifi County Adolescent and Youth Reproductive Health coordinator Ken Miriti confirmed that the county has allocated a total of sh500 million in this financial year for reproductive health services.
He notes that for decades youths have been ignored and reiterated the county’s commitment to changing the trend.
We have set aside sh5 million to ensure the full realization of youth-friendly services. Said Miriti Sunday.
However, according to the youth coordinator, the county is struggling with a shortage of staff to work in the youth-friendly facilities.
He also budgetary constraints on the same.
“We are battling with the shortage of staff to work in these facilities,” added Miriti