HIV/AIDS Practices / Youth Friendly Services
Female youth friendly service was a pattern of collaborative work between government sector and community including local government authority, education institute, religious, and civil society. Bureau of AIDS, TB and STIs has initiated this project according to the perceived situation that female youth has been victimized by a change of social environment; for instance, a lower age of sexual debut, more teenage pregnancies, an increase of sexually transmitted diseases. These reflected a higher risk to contract HIV. In addition, a survey revealed only a half of female youth use a condom at their last sexual intercourse. More capabilities of life skill were urgently needed among them.
Bureau of AIDS, TB and STIs then developed a model of female youth friendly service that has been piloted in Suphanburi where the situation was very critical. Working closely with local stakeholders, all related data were analyzed and a list of strategies was then identified. They were including 1) Empowerment of female; 2) Development of female youth friendly health service; 3) Development of networks of providers on female youth friendly services; and 4) Development of assistance and follow-up on female youths in schools. Two years after piloting in Suphanburi, four more provinces were joined and then scaling up to cover 43 provinces since 2014.
Results of the project shown that youth friendly-service centre networks have increased from 2 centres in 2010 to 949 centres in 2014; pregnancy rates among female youths ages 12-24 years in 5 provinces where projects were implemented have reducing trend; the number of female youths receiving services on STIs testing had increasing trend in 5 provinces; and, the number of female youths who were educated about sexuality and AIDS has increased in 5 provinces. Male youths were also trained simultaneously to create mutual understanding.
Factors leading to the success of this project were collaboration in the community for problem solving. Participation provided the opportunity for youths and women to be part of the solution. Equality among female youths inside and outside the school and ownership of the community activities contributed to project sustainability. Facilitating the policy by setting it as a local policy was another important factor because this act literally responded to people’s needs and problems. Adjusting the attitudes to build awareness and solve the problems through mutual assistance among friends and building sexuality and sexual relationships acceptance in the context of targeted groups and last but not least was the innovation in proactive service management to solve youth’s sexual health problems. It was important that innovative models and various tools were adopted to respond to the needs of the targeted groups.
As Thailand is moving towards ASEAN Community, female youth friendly services are required to respond to the needs of female youths in the region. Standards of services are needed to be maintained to serve the needs of female youths of all races and religions. Service provided should make them feel at ease. Expanding youth friendly service operations to all female youths in the ASEAN is a challenging task.
Sustainability of partners’ participation is another challenge. As the executives of different government offices are usually rotated in a certain period of time, strong networks of operational staff are required. Regular presentation on the project achievements will also help to emphasize the importance of female youth friendly services.
This project has committed to work on the female youth. Knowledge and experiences have increased female youths’ self-esteem and respect of their own rights including basic human rights, rights to health, rights to education, rights to be treated with dignity, gender equality and bargaining power in sexual relationships and the use of use of condoms for their own protection. These will enhance their quality of life and they will be recognized as a new generation of women with high self-esteem.
Once they have realized their own potentials and values, they will also respect the others’ rights and sympathize with other fellowmen. Additionally, these knowledge and values can also pass to their friends, families and communities. Health education will be sustainable with the inter-generational transfer of knowledge and practice.
Long term solutions should therefore emphasize on the role of female youth. The outcome will be worthwhile as female youth are the future of the country “Defeat AIDS: Empower female youth to change the world”.
Source: Document, Empowering Female Youths on Sexual Health and HIV/STIs Prevention through Collaborative Friendly Service Networks, Bureau of AIDS, TB and STIs, year 2015