Why young people are avoiding local facilities when seeking reproductive healthcare
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Why young people are avoiding local facilities when seeking reproductive healthcare

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BY ALICE AWUOR

A recent study on access to contraception in Migori County revealed that Many Adolescents and youths bypass their local nearer facility and travel a longer distance to access Contraceptives Information and services.

The study by Population Services International revealed that adolescents and youth, despite being the highest consumers of the services, tend to travel more than 5km to access these services at the private clinics or urban pharmacies.

Many young people cited stigma from familiar providers close by which forced them to go to the pharmacies and private clinics that were much farther from their local area.

Young people tend to look at various factors before accessing reproductive health services, including how youth friendly the services and information being offered at that facility is and whether it is without age discrimination.

They would rather seek contraception services and commodities from youth friendly providers who know how to handle young people without showing a negative attitude.

They also want somewhere where confidentiality can be guaranteed. Since confidentiality is a key concern for our young people, they would want to know whether there is a corner or a space reserved just for the young people and whether the facility opening hours are convenient to them.

The Health Ministry developed a National Adolescents and Youth Friendly Services training manual for health care providers. This was to guide the provision of comprehensive and quality to adolescent and youth.

Yet, despite the existing training manual, few service providers at our local facilities in Migori County have gone through the training and the provision of youth friendly services has remained low, leading to low contraceptive indicators.

This is why young people would rather use money they don’t have and time to access these contraceptive services than visit the local public facilities with poor and discriminative services.

For Young people to attain the “highest standards of health” including sexual and reproductive health as stated in our constitution, the county and national government should put efforts on integrating Youth Friendly services in our local facilities.

Prioritize the training of health care providers on Adolescent and Youth Friendly services, avail the various contraceptive commodities at our health centers, and do more than just sticking “youth friendly” labels onto facilities which young people will still rather avoid.

Ms Awuor is a Migori-based youth reproductive health advocate at the Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa (NAYA)