In Tanga, Tanzania, young people aren’t a priority when it comes to family planning – from services, to education, to advocacy and awareness. Too often, young people don’t use family planning services because of fear or shame. There needs to be a serious increase in efforts to empower young people in this community to make a change. www.umelady.com
There are a number of solutions that can be put in place. First, safe spaces where young people can express themselves and access reproductive health education must be established. Adding adolescent-only hours to health facilities and offering services in places where adolescents congregate (such as youth centers, sporting events or work sites) will allow young people to feel more comfortable when it comes to accessing family planning services. Affordable, accessible, non-judgmental, and youth-friendly family planning services need to be offered to everyone.
Secondly, governments also have a role to play. Policymakers need to come up with youth-focused strategies to boost young peoples’ access to contraceptives by ensuring enough family planning supplies and availability of trained staff in all health centers. This includes health centers in rural, remote areas. Additionally, laws and policies should respect the rights of young people to access family planning services without parental consent.
Lastly, the involvement of men and boys is a key strategy that can be used to increase youth uptake of family planning services. In Tanzania, men are the ones who decide the number of children a woman should bear. Yet, on the other hand, they perceive family planning as a “women’s issue.” If men and boys are empowered with accurate ,and gender-sensitive, information about family planning in a way that involves them, they will support the use of contraceptive methods by women and girls.
Young people need information about contraceptives. Family planning education should be taken into schools, market places, religious gathering places, and within households. Health centers should be equipped with all the necessary tools to meet young people’s needs. With the right information, young people will be able to make decisions about using contraceptives that are right for them.