By Andrew Bishop Mkandawire

Youth testimonials who have used contraception since their teenage days, have called upon all youth in Ntcheu and Neno districts to seek accurate contraception information from health workers to limit the flow of unreliable information aggravating the dissemination of myths and misconceptions circulating contraception.

The testimonials who shared their family planning experience and benefits during N’zatonse Open Days at Dzoole ground and Matope ground in Ntcheu and Neno districts in June 2021 respectively, observed that most parents and guardians with little information and youth who do not attend youth club meetings have very little knowledge of contraception and its benefits to youth.

 “I had some three friends whom one day we sparked a discussion around contraception. To my surprise, they all retreated because they advanced a myth and misconception that contraception in youth causes infertility. I was bold and went to the FPAM clinic and got excellent counseling and information about all available family planning methods. I was 17 then and opted for Injectable contraception while in Standard 8 at Bangala Primary School, then afterward switched to implant after giving birth,” said Linda Chatuwah, 22, MOVIL youth group member from Dzoole in Ncheu.

Chatuwa: Youth have to develop the desire to link up with community health workers in their areas

Giving her implant contraceptive testimony at Matope ground, Esnarth Kalima 23, encouraged youth to be bold and able to get in touch with community health workers available in their areas to access both accurate information and contraceptive services. “Youth have to understand that most elders are not yet ready to open up about sex issues and commit to conducting youth referrals, hence they need to consider joining youth groups that sit with health workers on topics of sexual and reproduction health,” Kalima added

Challenging that contraception causes infertility as most parents hold to refrain youth from protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancies and venereal infections, Chatuwa explained that contraception does not cause infertility because she has now a five years old child.

Mary Malekano, 20, from Dzoole Village in Ncheu also seconded Chatuwah that at 14 while in Standard 8 she started using injectable contraception, and after two years while in Form 2, she switched to a three-year implant.  In 2020 got married to a supportive husband and by June 2021 she had a month-old baby.

“I think most parents still don’t understand how contraception works. They threaten youth that contraception causes infertility which is a lie. Here I’m with a baby.

I encourage youth to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies and this will help them focus on their dream goals and enable their bodies to mature as health personnel advises,” Malekano added.

All testimonials wrapped their stories of inspiration by depicting the benefits of contraception. Testimonial from Matope Open Day, Ethel Samson 21, who started using condoms and injectable contraceptives at 15, said “I have benefitted from using contraceptives because I managed to finish secondary school and now I run a soap selling business which is keeping my family well.  And I’m a married woman with a child and it’s not true that contraceptives are bad for the youth.”

Samson: Contraception has more benefits to the youth

Christina Makawa 21 from Matope stated that she started using injectable contraception in 2017 and after giving birth she opted for a five-year implant to enable her to manage birth spacing. “My health is in great shape and my family is happy. Which woman does need to be happy?” she asked. 

Chatuwa concluded that she started her relationship with her husband when she was in Standard 8 and her love was in Form 4. “Being a supportive men, we shared the vision of completing secondary education which actually happened. Without contraception, this could not be possible,” she explained.

Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM) through the N’zatonse IV project is geared to reach more youth with both SRHR/HIV/GBV information and services to help Ntcheu and Neno District Health Offices champion youth good health by reducing teen pregnancies and venereal infections.