New "Zikhala Kanjani" national prevention strategy to place youth at the centre of the fight against teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and STIs

KZN Health MEC says "ABC" is still a priority, but new thinking, such as women being "revolutionary" and carrying own condoms, must be encouraged.

28 April 2024

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane says fresh and revolutionary approaches are needed, if society is to rid itself of situations where girls as young as 10 are falling pregnant, while up to 1300 girls between the ages of 15 and 24 get infected with HIV countrywide every week.

The MEC says the time has come for young people to be placed at the centre of the fight against teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and sexually-transmitted infection, and that parents need to get involved - and be prepared to initiate and lead tough conversations about sex.

She was speaking at eNdaleni, in Richmond, in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, during the recent (Friday, 26 April 2024) provincial launch of "Zikhala Kanjani," a new National Youth HIV Prevention Strategy.

The campaign rests on the integration of critical health, social services, and youth development programmes.

It entails social and behavioural change communication, and improving access to health products and services.

It is led by the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), co-ordinated primarily by provincial AIDS Councils (PCAs), and activated by a range of government departments and civil society organisations.

Described as a more inclusive programme, "Zikhala Kanjani" is a successor to the "She Conquers" campaign, which placed the focus singularly on adolescent girls and young women.

The occasion was also used for the unveilling of one of six new vending machines, which dispense free condoms and oral contraceptives - with the potential to offer many more sexual reproductive health services, which will be distributed in various parts of KZN, as part of a pilot project.

Addressing scores of young people during this community engagement programme, MEC Simelane said, "It worries us that, even today, we still continue to get young people falling pregnant from the age of 10 and upwards. It is a serious worry. It is a problem that we all need to put our heads together about, and address as a matter of urgency."

"The truth is that, there was a time when the Department wanted to take condoms to schools. But parents were the first ones to be up in arms. They fought tooth and nail, saying we are teaching their children bad habits. But when you find a 10 or 11 year-old falling pregnant, it means that child has been exposed to sex,  It means we need to have a discussion as society, that looks at teenage pregnancy in totality, because the problem doesn't end there. Young people getting engaged in sex also drives our high rate of sexually-transmitted infections."

"Working with the youth sector, we should come up with a proper strategy that will help us address the matter. We absolutely need to do that because, there is nothing that the Department will be able to achieve on its own. We have to work together as society, and as youth leaders."

The MEC emphasised that Government still subscribed to the mantra: "Abstain, Be Faithful, and Condomise," and that young people were encouraged to use new ways to take charge of their own future.

MEC Simelane said she was looking forward to more fruitful engagements between youth formations and Government entities, now that the "Zikhala Kanjani" programme had been launched in the Province.

"After this, I expect you to come to us, along with the youth development units in my Department (Health), and in the Office of the Premier, so we can sit down and have a proper implementation for the Zikhala Kanjani programme."

"Because, this can't just be a theme. It can''t just be a logo, or a word that we write. It must be a proper, tangible campaign. We can sit here and decide for young people what must happen, but that will not be impactful. We have to come up with a strategy.


"So, it's about messaging, and programmes, and campaigns, and all of us going to young people and talking to them. You must tell us how, working together, we will go to young people. You must tell us not only how to make young people listen to our messaging, but also do what we're talking about, so that this is not a futile exercise."

Issued by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health

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