Malawi Broadcasting Corporation
Africa Health Local Local News

MALAWI’S STRUGGLE TO ENCULTURE SAFE SEX AMONG THE YOUTH

In the vast tapestry of human history, one invention has stood the test of time as a guard against both disease and unintended parenthood: the condom.

From its ancient origins in 3000 BC, with the ingenious Ancient Egyptians to its modern iterations, condoms have remained a stalwart defender of sexual health.

However, despite their global recognition, there exists a stark contrast in their utilization, particularly in the warm heart of Africa, Malawi.

According to a study conducted by the United Nations, the male condom stands as the second most prevalent contraceptive worldwide, with 21% of the global population relying on its protective embrace, translating to approximately 189 million users annually.

Yet, in Malawi, a different narrative unfolds, one where the prophylactic prowess of condoms (effectiveness of condoms) remains underutilized, as lamented by the Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM).

Youths, the torchbearers of tomorrow, find themselves veering away from accessing condoms, something that impedes the nationwide distribution efforts by players in the sector.

A Vox Pop conducted in the City of Blantyre reveals that most youths shun the products due to stigmatization.

“When you are trying to buy condoms, you would feel uncomfortable [with all the prying eyes],” said Khumbo Soko, a female student at the Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (MUBAS).

She says she would rather opt to embrace the alternative of utilizing contraceptive pills.

Another student at the University, Chikondi Maseya, pointed out that the act of buying condoms often becomes ‘an embarassing scenario’

“People would feel like I am a womaniser,” he said.

While in the bustling market of Limbe, Maureen Banda, said she has never used one and somehow feels that she would be labelled as promiscuous if she did.

Evance Mathewe, a businessman, believes purchasing such products is stressful.

“You can go in a shop to buy, but just looking at your sorrounding, you can [change your mind] and opt to engage in sexual activity without any protection,” he said.

Donald Makwakwa, the Chief Executive Officer of FPAM, acknowledges this challenge, emphasizing that there are ongoing collaborations with the Ministry of Health to rectify the situation.

Through initiatives like the Youth Health Friendly Services Awareness Campaign and Comprehensive Training for health officers, Makwakwa says FPAM strives to bridge the gap and ensure unhindered access to condoms.

“When we look at a condom, it is one of the most important products. It is the only method of contraception that provides dual oprotection form unwanted pregnancies and diseases. Malawians should definetly embrace the use of condoms,” he said.

Health Expert, Maziko Matemba, delves deeper into the societal stigma surrounding condom use, stressing the critical need for heightened awareness and accessibility nationwide.

Matemba’s concerns resonate deeply, especially in a country like Malawi, where the prevalence of HIV & AIDS and unintended pregnancies among sexually active individuals looms large.

“There is a lot of discrimination but we should strive to eliminate this,” he said.

As outlined by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Malawi’s demographic landscape is characterized by a youthful majority.

On 13 February annually, it is the International Condom Day and it is Originated in 1987 as a response to the AIDS epidemic by the US-based non-profit organization, AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

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