Youth-friendly corners improve uptake of srhr services
One of the Project’s priorities is to train Peer Facilitators to promote safer sexual behaviours, reduce risky behaviours and inspire life skills so that young people know their health status and can better protect themselves (and their partners), and seek treatment if needed. The multi-pronged intervention places trained Peer Facilitators in youth-friendly corners, where they support and guide young people entering the health system—an efficient and promising approach that helps to create youth-friendly health services at the community level.
As a Peer Facilitator, Matovu conducts health talks, one on one peer sessions, link and refer young people for health services within the facility. They (Peer Facilitators) also assist health workers in ensuring young people receive services in a timely manner.
Matovu received training in Sexual and Reproductive Health, HIV, Family Planning Sexual and Gender Based Violence, alcohol and drug abuse, life skills and menstrual hygiene management.
Being a Peer Facilitator impacted Matovu in a positive way. “I have got to know more about young people and the different challenges they face. It has created a bond between me and my peers. And since I lead a team of facilitators, my leadership skills have greatly improved.” Through the training I got and various engagements with health workers, my knowledge in SRH, HIV, FP and other topics has widened.”
Health talks have helped create awareness for SRH and other services among young people. “The young people who attend the health always go back in their communities and tell others about the services at health facility which increases uptake” Matovu.
The numbers speak of success: youth accessing health services increased by an average of 55 percent to-date. In that same period, family planning uptake and HIV testing increased considerably, in part due to the continued training of Peer Facilitators. The intervention ultimately resulted in a more informed and more proactive youth population. Consequently, youth-friendly corners have increased opportunities for young people to receive counselling and referrals for sexual and reproductive health services and information in a more age-appropriate and gender-responsive manner.
“Since the youth friendly corner was set up, we have seen many young people coming for health services,” Rebecca Nabatanzi, Health Worker and Adolescent Focal Person, Malangala Health Centre III. There are games and a TV which attracts them to come to the facility. She notes that the Health Center administration will continue to engage the young people in order to strengthen SRH services delivery at both the facility and community. There was fear and stigma in the outpatient department for young people. But now with the youth corner, young people are many.
Before TeamUp program, we used to get about 80 young people in a month but now, we get over 200 people per month. The parents are happy with the way young people are accessing services. To ensure sustainability, Nabatanzi notes that the facility has integrated Peer Facilitators into the Health Unit Management and young people’s concerns are now a strong component of the health facility plans and budgets.