Today marks International Youth Day 2016, a day each year devoted to elevating the importance of healthy youth development and engagement throughout our world. This year’s Youth Day theme is “eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable consumption and production.” The UN notes sustainable consumption “entails the use of products and services that meet the basic needs of communities while safeguarding the needs of future generations.” As highlighted in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, part of this effort requires ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, such as family planning (FP).
Since its start, the Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3) has dedicated itself to improving youth SRH choices and behaviors around the world. This year, HC3 released a collection of adaptable social and behavior change communication (SBCC) materials meant to increase youth access to the most effective contraceptive methods out there: long acting reversible contraceptive methods (LARCs), including the intrauterine device (IUD) and implant. The SBCC materials – a provider video and discussion guide, brochures and posters – can be used in existing youth SRH programs to help expand the FP method mix for youth, encourage providers to mindfully counsel young clients on the methods and drum up interest and demand among youth themselves.
Program personnel are already appreciating the tools’ value. To date, a total of eight unique organizations from countries including Nigeria, Mozambique, Ghana, Kenya, Guatemala and Uganda have asked to adapt the materials and use them in their own work. The organizations plan to distribute the posters and brochures to private and public clinics, hospitals, pharmacies and schools. Brochures will also be used as provider and community health worker job aides. The video and discussion guide will be incorporated into workshops with providers to strengthen youth-friendly service delivery – an approach HC3 partner Population Services International (PSI) recently implemented in Uganda. Organizations plan to add logos, swap out images and translate the materials into other languages to tailor the tools to their own communities.
HC3 is thrilled with this interest, and will follow up with organizations down the road to learn more about their experiences. In the meantime, HC3 is working on the LARC materials’ next chapter – engaging young people to develop videos to address and reduce misconceptions about LARCs and re-position the methods as acceptable options for this age group. All of this work represents just one more step HC3 is taking to help SRH services reach and respond to the distinct needs of youth – today, and in future generations.