The Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI) has officially opened this year’s 6th Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Forum to be held from 13th October to the 15th of October 2021 under the theme innovate. Integrate. Thrive.

Speaking at the forum, REPSSI country director Kelvin Ngoma said the forum which is combining physical and virtual interactions of over a thousand delegates drawn from a wide range of partners in the region and internationally, is aimed at sharing innovative practice and latest research data that impact on the provision of psychosocial support and mental health on girls, boys and the youth.

He said the forum is also an avenue to promote awareness and understanding the importance of integrating psychosocial support in humanitarian emergencies, early childhood development, sexual and productive health and protection and livelihoods, in order to help children and the youth thrive and become productive citizens.

“Zambian children are also facing inadequate access to sexual and reproductive health services that resulted in unsafe sexual practices, early and unintended pregnancies and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases”. He said.

He said children and the youth have been failed in more ways than one despite having adequate laws to protect children and the government doing something to promote children and youth wellbeing, the country has continued to record incidences of abuse cases such as defilement, child labor, and increase in children living and working on the streets, which has further lead to them losing their social networks, rejected by family, religious network and their friends.

Mr. Ngoma also called on the government to strengthen early childhood development services through setting up community based ECD centers and rolling out maternal health services to all parts of the country and decentralizing birth registration so that all children born in Zambia are registered.

Meanwhile speaking on behalf of the Education Permanent Secretary at the forum, Principle Education Officer under the Ministry of General Education Foster kayungwa has commended REPSSI for its works in promoting and enhancing the mental and psychosocial wellbeing of children and youths not only in Zambia but across the southern and eastern Africa regions.

“The ministry of education is indeed proud to be associated with an organization that shares in our vision of developing and shaping the character of children and youths to prepare them for different responsibilities”. He added

Mr. Kayungwa also said youths and children are usually vulnerable and face challenges such as sexual gender based violence, joblessness and teenage pregnancies among others, because of their nature and place in society hence the need to require a multi sectoral and multi disciplinary approach as well as the concerted efforts of all stakeholders.

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