Build It and They Will Come: Youth-friendly efforts draw more family planning clients

February 16th, 2020 | Viewpoint


Getting young people—who comprise the bulk of Zambia’s population—to attend health care services is critical to preventing HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and unplanned pregnancies. But if they don’t feel safe or welcome at facilities, they are unlikely to seek or return for care.

In Zambia’s Kitwe District, adolescents were reluctant to seek family planning and other services at Mulenga Clinic because they were uncomfortable discussing their reproductive health needs around older patients, and the care providers seemed too busy for them. To address this, clinic management staff met with USAID Supporting an AIDS-Free Era (SAFE) and other implementing partners to talk about ways to make young people comfortable coming to the clinic and decided to create a space just for them. USAID SAFE gave Mulenga Clinic family planning standard operating manuals and data-capture tools and trained and mentored clinic staff to use them.

Now that they no longer have to mix with older clients—who may be family, friends, or neighbors—an average of 90 youth come each month for contraceptive and other services at Mulenga’s youth-friendly clinic.

The USAID SAFE-trained staff have more time for and are better able to understand their young clients’ needs. Youth are finding the space so comfortable that they encourage their reluctant peers to access family planning services at Mulenga, too. USAID SAFE will support Mulenga clinic to share its youth-friendly strategy with other clinics so that they too can meet the critical health needs of the nation’s young people.

USAID SAFE directly supports the Government of Zambia’s (GRZ) long-term vision of becoming a nation free from the threat of HIV and AIDS by 2030. The program works to reduce HIV mortality, morbidity, and transmission, while improving nutrition outcomes and family planning integration in three provinces: Central, Copperbelt, and North-Western. The USAID-funded initiative is implemented by John Snow, Inc., in collaboration with Abt Associates, mothers2mothers, and the Catholic Medical Mission Board.

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