Youth Friendly Health Services

Pilot intervention tested approaches for creating broad based youth friendly health services in the existing public health system. The purpose was to meet individual health needs as well as to sustain their motivation to utilize such services.

At the beginning discussions on providing reproductive health services to young people was very ‘sensitive’, resulting out of cultural and traditional orientation on matters related to sexuality. Some sections of the community were concerned that providing such services might encourage sexual activity among young people. Outreach activities were conducted to overcome those barriers and to mobilize the widest community support for youth friendly services.

Attitude of service providers is often cited as the single most important barrier to youth accessing/seeking reproductive health services. This attitude is greatly influenced by religious and cultural backgrounds, professional training and orientation. The project assessed the training needs of the service providers and other paramedical and support staff, operational and structural changes necessary before the introduction of youth friendly services in  the local health facility.

One striking feature was the involvement of young men and women. Young people identified their health related needs and through facilitated participation, suggested solutions in meeting those needs. Their involvement in the project greatly assisted in mobilizing support and sustaining motivation to utilize the services by their peers.

The existing front line human resources including Auxiliary Midwife Nurse, Aanganwadi workers, Lady Health Visitors, health care providers at the PHCs, private doctors and Registered Medical Practitioners were trained under this project to strengthen health care services at the village level. Project staff ensured their regular involvement during all the project activities e.g. mass awareness programmes, counselling, and Youth Health Committee meetings so as to bridge the gap between the providers and the young people in the community. They also created strong referral services between the community and the facility through the Youth information centers.