ASRH Programme: An insight into valuable youth-friendly service delivery
Donald Dube (ZNFPC)
Zimbabwe National Family Planning (ZNFPC) has a department that addresses the concerns of young people, known as the Adolescent and Youth Sexual Reproductive Health (ASRH) department. The department coordinates the programme which seeks to inform, educate and empower youths with information and provide clinical services on sexual reproductive health and adolescent issues to empower young people to make informed decisions in life.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) an adolescent youth is defined as a young person between the ages of 10 – 24 years. ASRH aims to promote good reproductive health behaviours among young people. This implies a state of complete physical, mental and social well being.
ASRH has adopted several approaches to address adolescent and youth needs. These include the Community based approach, (Youth Centres) and the School based approach (through HIV clubs, guidance and counselling and peer education) among others. Youth-friendly services being implemented by ZNFPC include advocacy, information education and communication (IEC), library and internet facilities, peer education, comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) clinical services and training, recreation, survival skills training and life skills training.
Advocacy is a key aspect of the programme which involves seeking support from community leaders, parents, church leaders and influential opinion leaders in society on young people’s reproductive health. Community acceptance of the programme is vital as members assume ownership of the activities. Parent to Child Communication (PCC) is another important component which facilitates strengthened communication between children and parents / guardians on reproductive health issues they encounter.
With the introduction of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), young people are also being empowered with information on personal and community development through the community and school-based curriculum. Youths are equipped with age-appropriate reproductive health information and communication materials that teaches them to maintain good behaviours, moral values and make informed choices. Posters, pamphlets, T-shirts and hats are distributed at youth centres, in schools and in communities for health promotion.
Most youth-friendly centres have library and internet facilities were young people access free online services for academic and social searches. Recreational and leisure activities such as in and outdoor ball games, athletics, sports, library facilities, radio listening and group discussions form part of the ASRH programmes. Recreational and library facilities promote team work and contribute to mental and physical development of the youths.
At youth centres, training on survival skills is undertaken. Youths are empowered with information and knowledge on self-help projects and income generating activities. Through linkages with vocational training centres, youths are trained in building, sewing, carpentry among other courses. Life skills training involves managing relationships, maintaining a high self-esteem and decision making. In all these activities, there is a clinical component to the programme. Youth-friendly trained nurses offer clinical services to young people to foster good sexual reproductive health outcomes in this key population.