‘Heightened awareness on reproductive health is crucial’

National 2 minutes, 45 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

YOUTHS in Brunei need to take the lead in raising awareness of reproductive health issues in the country, said the captain of the youth wing of Brunei Darussalam AIDS Council (BDAC), Penyinar Club, during a recent interview.

According to Md Rafee Isa, this includes addressing issues such as prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). He noted that youths are the future leaders and the ones who will develop the nation in the years ahead.

Speaking to The Brunei Times, Md Rafee said that it is important to change the mindset of the people on reproductive health in order to have a society that is open to discussing the implications that diseases such as HIV/AIDS could have on victims and the people around them.

“We understand that this matter is still taboo in our society, but being silent or negatively reacting to social issues instead of giving solutions, is not the way to address this matter,” he said.

He also said that although reproductive health is not yet taught at lengths in schools to every student nearing adulthood, youths can still learn about it from NGOs such as Penyinar Club and in turn help their peers understand the issue as well.

“As a young person myself, I believe that early awareness and self-empowerment are important so if their parents or teachers are not educating them about the matter, at least there will be discussions among youths and their peers on reproductive health issues,” he said.

Md Rafee also said that Penyinar Club will be holding an election to determine its next committee on April 1, 2016 at the Youth Centre after Friday prayers.

He said that it is important to pass on the mantle of the committee to the next group of youths to ensure that the fight against HIV/AIDS will not stop when the current generation moves on.

“The reason of the election is definitely for the sustainability of the club and also to groom future leaders for the AIDS Council because young people will be needed when the seniors of BDAC move on with lives such as when they get married, have children and have other responsibilities,” he said.

“Among the roles of being a committee member of the Penyinar Club is to be a peer to the youth and talk about pressing social issues such as HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy and its preventive measures with people who are roughly of the same generation who they would be more comfortable with,” he said.

Md Rafee emphasised that the knowledge to prevent HIV/AIDS is better and less expensive than having the cure for it.

“Bruneians are very lucky to have a highly affordable health care due to the government subsidies on it but the treatment and drugs for HIV/AIDS is still expensive and this will only burden public spending if people are infected,” he said.

“This is why teaching the young on reproductive health knowledge and raising awareness is important as we will not burden the country with unnecessary health care costs, which actually could be prevented in the first place,” he said.

Penyinar are inviting all current members as well as any interested member of the public between 14 and 25 years old to attend the election notwithstanding their intent to stand for any posts.

The Brunei Times