Nothing for us without us, this is one of the phrases that I like the most. It is paramount to prioritize the health wellbeing of the young people. Over the years I had a great opportunity of working with young people, especially in matters regarding their sexual reproductive health and rights. Through information sharing creating high demand for the young people to uptake these services.
Recently I was involved in adolescent youth friendly services research as a data researcher, the research was on the current state of AYFS. During this time I closely engaged with service providers from both the private and public health centre. Though I concentrated more on the public health centre, Mathare north health centre. Through the involvement it was clear that the service providers also are in support of the YFS, unlike in the recent years when they used to be rude to patients, particularly young patients. The health sector has gone vigorous mind/attitude shift.
Walking in at the health centre on the first day, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the service providers, will they be okay with us doing the research at the facility? Straight my colleague and I went to the sister in charge for formal introduction. The warm reception was beyond our expectation, the sister informing us of their plan to revive the youth friendly centre at the facility. This was a good start and the sister too was of much interest in the outcome document. After short formal and informal discussion, she introduced us to one of the nurses who was to give us assistance where possible.
Through the two weeks research at the facility, keen interest was to the young people who have already seek the services, the walk out clients. The young people were really open with the services they had received, this was facilitated by the safe space we had provided for them in giving honest feedback as a means to help in improving the services. Young people care about their health, what they lack is a space where they feel safe airing their concerns or accessing the services without any fear or discrimination.
One thing to note was the timing young people were coming in to access the service, this was in the afternoons, as this is the time when most people have left the centre and the ques are short. Though some come in the morning hours, it is obvious that they seems not comfortable. For example it is very hard for a young person going to the health centre for the condoms to walk past the waiting bay to the condom dispenser and pick.
Of interest was the fact that all the respondents agreed on the need for a youth friendly centre and service at the facility which meets the minimum standards as stipulate on the national guidelines for provision of adolescent youth friendly services. Moreover, the service providers were well trained and conversant with offering the services at a friendly manner.
The response of societies to the reproductive health needs of adolescents should be based on Information that helps them attain a level of maturity required to make responsible decisions. Through the process it was evident the health sector has done much in terms of attitude change from the service providers, this was also magnified by the good response most young people gave on the friendliness and that they would recommend the health centre to other young people.