Ensuring access to family planning services for youth

 BY MENGISTEAB TESHOME

Ethiopia has one of the highest fertility rates in Africa, with 45 percent of its population under the age of 15. The country since 2012 has been working keenly focusing on improving the health and development of its youthful population and providing youth friendly services and youth outreach related sexual and reproductive health services.

With its innovative community, health worker extension program that delivers health services including family planning to clients, Ethiopia’s health indicators continue to improve.

The government holds dear the principle of equitable access to safe, effective, and affordable contraception and family planning services across the country.

Recently, a joint project organized by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Marie Stopes International Ethiopia was launched. The project, known as ‘DARGAGOOTAAF’ to men ‘For the Youths’ aims to let the youths get the family planning services in more productive fashion than ever before and increase the accessibility in using the services.

Speaking on the occasion Dr. Meseret Zelalem, Maternal and Child Health Directorate Director with the Ministry said that the Ministry is working actively to improving services and access the facilities to all young people at all levels across the country.

This special project is a program that is designed and crafted for the youths to inform and to let them get the services that they need when facing challenges related to pregnancy, (antenatal care),  during labor and after giving birth.

As to her, the project has been implemented for the past two years throughout Oromia State and now it will be implemented in other states taking the best practices gained from the past experience, she remarked.

As to her, in a survey conducted to learn more about how to provide family planning to the youths, and assess the initiative of institutions while providing services, it was enabled to identify that all have great interest in caring in a compassionate fashion.

The Project is funded by Packard Foundation and will be implemented by the Ministry of Health and Marie Stopes International. The service will be given in government’s healthcare centers, private health facilities and Marie Stopes International Ethiopia clinics.

Abebe Shibru, Marie Stopes International Ethiopia Country Director, on his part said that Marie Stopes has been working in Ethiopia for almost three decades, delivering family planning and reproductive health services to millions of low income and underserved women and men across the country.

“We work closely with the Government of Ethiopia and other partners to help reduce maternal mortality rates by increasing access to quality sexual and reproductive health services.”

Marie Stopes Ethiopia provides long-acting and permanent methods through 10 mobile outreach teams targeting hard to reach areas across the country.

According to him, Marie Stopes is providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services through a network of centers, more than 300 socially franchised private clinics, and outreach teams.

Organization’s outreach teams target hard to reach clients in the three most populated regions of the country. Services are fully subsidized and offered free to clients who would not otherwise be able to afford them.

The services the organization provides across Ethiopia include general medical consultation, short, long-acting and permanent methods of contraception, family planning counseling, pre- and post-natal care, child health checks, free condom provision, voluntary testing and counseling on HIV, and Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) screening and treatment, he added.

The Ethiopian Herald March 30/2021

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