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Radio Program causes Father's Shift on Contraceptives

(June 18, 2024) For years, Elvis Mwasekah opposed his sons using contraceptives or even visiting youth reproductive health clinics. He followed the advice of his own parents, who told him to simply instruct his children to abstain from sexual activity. However, that approach backfired.

Mwasekah's eldest son, in his early 20s, now has three young children with three different women as a result of unplanned pregnancies.

It was a radio program on Chirundu Community Radio in Nkhata Bay, Malawi that finally changed Mwasekah's stance.

He heard a health provider and religious leader discuss the importance of parents having open conversations with their teens about sex and pregnancy prevention.

"From your program, I have learned that having 'the talk' with your teen about sex and pregnancy prevention is important," said Mwasekah, who also has an 18-year-old son.

"Having a series of discussions that begin early, happen often and continue over time can make more of a difference than a single conversation."

Encouraging Contraceptive Use

Mwasekah now encourages his 18-year-old son to use condoms and other contraceptives.

His wife, Memory Jere, has even recorded a public service announcement urging all local youth to seek reproductive health services at the area's Youth Friendly Health clinic.

"My parents used to tell me that I should not allow my kids to use any contraceptives method. They advised me to teach {my kids} to refrain from sexual activities," Mwasekah said. "But that clearly did not work well with my eldest."

Health experts say Mwasekah's revised approach of having open discussions about safe sexual practices, combined with ensuring access to contraceptives, is vital for reducing unplanned teen pregnancies.

"We have to meet young people where they are, not where we wish they were," said Dr. Nalucha Ziba, who oversees adolescent health programs in the region. "That means providing them with medically accurate information and affordable contraceptive services without judgment."


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