The young people of Kumanovo will now be able to receive free psychologist counselling, and education and information about sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Today, HERA – Health Education and Research Association opened the first “I Want To Know” Youth Centre in Kumanovo, in cooperation with the Kumanovo Health Centre, where the Youth Centre will be situated. This Youth Centre, first of its kind in Kumanovo, will be providing free and confidential psychologist services to young people, information materials about sexual and reproductive health, peer education about sexual and reproductive health, as well as a space for youth activism for all young people, especially for the socially excluded and marginalised ones.
The “I Want To Know” Youth Centre in Kumanovo was opened by the President of the Governing Board of HERA, Ms. Rumena Ǵerdovska-Kojčeski, who emphasised that thanks to the support from and the cooperation with the Kumanovo Health Centre and the local self-government, the young people of Kumanovo will now have access to completely free and confidential services for sexual and reproductive health. “The Youth Centre in Kumanovo was opened following suit of the existing two ‘I Want To Know’ Youth Centres in Skopje, which have been operating for more than 15 years now, and have been recognised by the Ministry of Health, the Public Health Institute and the Infectious Diseases Clinic. They are visited annually by some 2000 to 3000 people seeking dermatovenerological and gynaecological examinations, counselling services and HIV testing, as well as counselling from psychologists, social workers, legal aid and peer education”, she added.
The Mayor of Kumanovo, Mr. Maksim Dimitrievski, also addressed the visitors, emphasising that the Municipality did not hesitate to support the opening of the new Youth Centre, as in this way, the youth will also gain access to space for their activism and debates, which will allow for open discussions to take place on topics frequently perceived as taboo and for solutions to be identified adequate to their needs.
The opening of this centre directly contributes to the realisation of the young people’s rights to accessing scientifically based and medically supported information and education about how to improve their sexual and reproductive health. At the same time, they are provided with a safe space where they can raise issues from their everyday lives and receive counselling from experts, as well as information and education from their peers.
The risks related to lack of information and the limited access to services between youth have been identified in the Findings from the International Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Survey, for children aged 11, 13 and 15 (HBSC, 2017-2018), of the World Health Organisation, according to which as many as one-third of the sexually active young people in Macedonia have at least once had unprotected sexual intercourse. The Ombudsman established in 2016 and 2017 that over 700 minor girls in Macedonia have become mothers, and 62 chose to terminate their pregnancy. On the other hand, according to a HERA research, 96% of parents want their children to know where they can seek medical assistance in case of risks from HIV and sexually transmitted infections.