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Lilongwe, Malawi - The Swiss Agency for Development and Coorperation from the Eastern and Southern Africa division as well as from Bern in Switzerland felt impressed with a two day country visit to Malawi to assess the preliminary impact of the Safeguard Young People program. Jean Golay, SDCs Development and Technical Prgramme officer, said they are impressed with the success the programme has registered despite its short period of implementation and SDC is committed to see that more and more young people are reached and their lives are transformed through the programme. 'We are impressed with the program because UNFPA and its partners are building on the success of other programmes with the SYP programme' he said.

The team visited Gwengwere primary school in Dedza where outreach services for the youth are offered. The team also visited Kochilira rural hospital in Mchinji where despite the facility being an unaccredited site to provide youth friendly health services, young people continue to access youth friendly health services as well information on their health.

During the visit to Dedza in a traditional authority Kaphuka, a community that is 15km and 20 kms away to Kaphuka health centre and Kasina health centre respectively, youth friendly health services are provided by the Family Planning Association of Malawi in an outreach approach by targeting the young people of aged 10 to 24. These services are provided to the community for free. Freston Dambuleni, a youth friendly health service provider said the community has been underserved for a long time and since they started offering the outreach services, more young people have been coming to access HTC and family planning services. "I am encouraged by the number of many young people who come to access services here and I feel happy to assist my fellow young people who might otherwise not be able to access any family planning services', said Freston.

In Mchinji, at Kochilira rural hospital, young people through the safe guard programme are able to meet, discuss and access youth friendly health services in an environment that is conducive for them. Despite the facility not yet accredited by the Ministry of Health as a YFHS facility, significant numbers of young people access family planning, HTC and ART among other services.

The six member SDC team led by Nadia Ottiger held a number of discussions with UN Resident Coordinator in Malawi, Mia Seppo; Minister of Youth and Sports development, Grace Chiumia; Secretary for Health, MacPhil Magwira, UNFPA Malawi country office team and also local leaders and young people.

SYP is a Regional Programme implemented in the eight countries in Southern Africa with highest rates of HIV. In Malawi, the programme is coordinated by UNFPA and implemented in six districts of Nkhatabay, Dedza, Mchinji, Mangochi, Chiradzulu, and Chikwawa.