Reproductive health services for youth-adolescents should be improved

Accessibility of reproductive health system is a burning issue among young people during this #COVID19 ambiance. According to a report by the Needs Assessment working group of Bangladesh, almost 30% of the adolescent and young population is under reproductive systems who contribute to a holistic approach in our economic, social, political and demographic factors. But in this #COVID19 pandemic, 25% service takers, especially women are not being able to reach service centers because of the lockdown crisis.

Young people are facing the most difficult period as they cannot access physical facilities or not much aware about telemedicine services. A diverse group of above 50 youth and adolescents from all divisions of the country took part in a virtual advocacy meeting organize by SERAC-Bangladesh and RHRN Bangladesh, with concerned departments on Wednesday morning on zoom platform to suggest improvement of the adolescent and youth health services and strengthen the capacity of service providers during and after COVID situation with meaningful inclusive youth participation.

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On his opening note, SERAC-Bangladesh Executive Director, SM Shaikat mentioned that the pandemic has created barriers to access reproductive services and information for young people and adolescent in the country as well as the lack of capacity building opportunities for providers is also creating challenges to access the existing services. He urged the government to follow up on strengthening the capacity of service providers with inclusion of youth voices and experiences deeming the National Adolescent Health Strategy.

A presentation by Tasnia Ahmed, Program Officer of SERAC-Bangladesh narrated the reality check with the experience of young people and service providers on reproductive health services in the adolescent-youth friendly health centers.

Speakers emphasized on how to adapt with the COVID-19 situation and transform the adolescent friendly health services at the centers; ensure urban youth health rights; GO-NGO initiatives to provide capacity strengthening training for service providers; ensuring privacy maintenance and friendly health services to the vulnerable youth and adolescents.

Speakers including Public health expert Dr. Abu Jamil Faisel, FP2020 CSO Country Focal stressed on moving forward to meaningful youth inclusion to create mass awareness on prevention gender based violence, leading to rape and child marriage and adolescent unwanted pregnancy during this COVID-19 crisis.

Dr. Md. M. Islam Bulbul, Deputy Program Manager of National Nutrition Service, Bangladesh urged the adolescents and youth to the increase immunity, maintain proper nutrition and balanced diet, especially for pregnant young women to avoid complications during COVID19 situation.

Dr. Jaynal Haque, Program Manager (A&RH) of DGFP stated that the DGFP has taken steps to increase the adolescent friendly health centers from 603 to 900 by this year. Moreover, the hotline number 16767 (24/7) is always active for the adolescent and young reproductive information and services in this pandemic situation too.

Reproductive health

Nurul Islam Hasib, Special Correspondent of Bangladesh Post asked to utilize resources in a more effectively to strengthen the health system. He also advised youth to be positive in spreading in creating awareness.

Discussants include UNFPA’s URBAN Health Analyst, Md. Azmal Hossain; UNICEF’s Health Officer-Adolescent Health, Farhana Shams Shumi, Pathfinder International’s Adolescent Specialist , Fatema Shabnam; RHRN PMEL focal, Md Abul Borkat; RHRN BRAC co-focal, Mehnaz Alam Kumkum; RHRN FPAB focal person, Nazrul Islam; RHRN FPAB co-focal person, Atiar Rahman; RHRN Naripokkho co-focal person, Maksuda Khatun; and more than 50 adolescent and youth representatives from all 8 divisions of the country attended the advocacy meeting.

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