IMPROVING THE PROVISION OF SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH SERVICES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IN KINSHASA
On June 29th, at the end of the Generation Equality Forum in Paris, an international event promoting gender equality and combatting gender inequalities, L'Initiative and national stakeholders officially launched the “access to sexual and reproductive health / HIV - Tuberculosis information and services for adolescents and young people aged 10 to24 in Kinshasa" program. L'Initiative is providing €500,000 of funding to the project over a period of 24 months.
This project is led by the Network of Congolese Youth Associations against AIDS (RACOJ / SIDA) and has strong support from national stakeholders. The launch ceremony took place in the presence of His Excellency the Minister of Youth, Mr. Yves Bonkulu, Dr. Aimé Mboyo, Director General of the national multisectoral program to fight AIDS, Dr. Rachel Ndaya, national coordinator of RACOJ , as well as representatives from the French Embassy and L'Initiative. The stakes are high: according to the DRC National Strategic Plan 2018-2021, 36,700 adolescents aged 10 to 19 are living with HIV, which equates to 14% of all people living with HIV in the country.
This project has two areas of intervention: establishing a reliable database on sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and young people disaggregated by sex and age, broken down into three categories (10-14 years; 15-19 years and 20 -24 years) and improving their access to information and health services, particularly for schoolchildren, young people living on the streets, young people from organizations and LGBTIQ young people.The objective is to provide targeted services adapted to each age group:
"As part of this project, we are going to set up youth clubs and friendly listening and information centers for adolescents in the health zones where the project will be rolled out" explains Dr Rachel Ndaya.
This new program follows on from the “Youth and HIV” project previously implemented by RACOJ /Sida in consortium with Médecins du Monde, with funding from L'Initiative. The project contributed to increasing the use of HIV services available in Kinshasa and North Kivu through establishing youth spaces, developing awareness-raising messages targeting adolescents and carrying out advocacy promoting free testing for minors. Jeunialissime, an organization that specializes in working with LGBTIQ+ people, is now also involved; adding to the prior experience. Jeunialissime will be responsible for leading all activities targeting LGBTIQ+ youth in particular, in relation to breaking down social barriers.
However, Expertise France's support does not stop there. Since May 2021, two experts have been recruited by L'Initiative to consolidate RACOJ's financial management and monitoring and evaluation capacity in relation to this new program. Virginie Biau, who is in charge of monitoring projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at L'Initiative comments:
"We are committed to supporting civil society organizations, RACOJ in this instance, to respond to the three pandemics and promote access to health care for adolescents and young people".