SEXUAL REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH SERVICES AND INFORMATION: Barriers in the interventions.
Young people need access to a variety of sexual reproductive health services and information regardless of their being sexually active or not. Sexual and reproductive health interventions and program planned for adolescents and young people do not reach them and meet their needs because of the barriers and infidelity in delivering and implementing these programs. Program plans and interventions for young people should provide adequate sexual and reproductive services without any form of discrimination. It should also aim to improve the sexual health of young people and girls; improving access to comprehensive reproductive health services.
COMPREHENSIVE SEXUALITY EDUCATION.
For an intervention to meet the needs of adolescents and young people, programs developed for the interventions must be implemented effectively. Comprehensive sexuality education has been adopted by some countries and states but there is lack of fidelity in provision of sexuality education to adolescents and young people in Nigeria. Most times the school curriculum do not contain enough information about contraception methods and usage. The implementation of comprehensive sexuality education in schools lack information about reproductive health, access to sexual health services and does not pay attention to the empowerment of adolescents and young people.
PEER EDUCATION: Most times, sexual reproductive health information, especially those on HIV and contraception, are passed through friends, peer educators and the mass media. These kind of information are most times not first-hand, inadequate and inaccurate. Efforts that consider these to provide more effective peer education is required.
YOUTH FRIENDLY HEALTH CENTER
These are services that focuses on the welfare and well being of adolescents, young people and youths through guidance on how to maximize the use of health care services.
The youth friendly health services is a key strategy for improving young people’s health and it should be able to meet the expectations of young people and improve their health. However, these services are suboptimal and young people do not make use of this services because health care workers are not friendly, do not honor the adolescent and young people’s privacy and there are issues of confidentiality. The attitudes towards unmarried girls requesting for contraception is judgmental.
Being suboptimal, the youth friendly health services sometimes do not have the six major need of a youth friendly health center which are:
1. SAFE SPACES: Young people need to feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment or any other emotional or physical harm when accessing sexual and reproductive services.
2. CONVENIENT HOURS: The youth friendly health services should operate at times when young people will have access to both offline and online services.
3. COMFORTABLE SURROUNDINGS: The environment in which the youth friendly health service is provided should be comfortable.
4. FRIENDLY CARE: The health care workers who renders services to young people should be friendly and compassionate.
5. PEER EDUCATORS: It is easy for young people to relate with someone of their age group than an older person. A peer educator will better promote health and enhance change among peers.
6. PRIVACY: The health status of adolescents and young people should be kept secret and confidential.
CWIDI’S APPROACH TO HIGH PROFILE PUBLIC MEETINGS AS A CASE STUDY
CWIDI programs are planned and utilises policy makers and people who can influence policy and a follow up to their open dialogue is done to hold them accountable to their commitments and public statement. Also, at CWIDI, step down trainings for beneficiaries especially at the grass root levels are conducted. Social accountability is often followed up when implementing interventions and programs planned for adolescents and young people. Thus, there is a need for greater accountability and fidelity in implementing comprehensive sexuality education and youth friendly services in Nigeria. Programs and interventions should be monitored and evaluated to assess both process and outcome fidelity and effectiveness. This is doable but requires political will, adequate funding and support through partnership-working by all stakeholders.
Written by Concern Women International Development Initiative (CWIDI)