Characteristics of adolescent-and youth-friendly reproductive health services
Reproductive services that are accessible to, acceptable by and appropriate for adolescents and youth are called adolescent- and youth-friendly reproductive health services. They are in the right place, at the right price (free where necessary), and delivered in the right style to be acceptable to young people. The characteristics of AYFRH services relate to the service providers, the health facility itself, and the programme design. You see these characteristics in boxes below.
Health facility characteristics
- Convenient space/location
- Convenient hours
- Comfortable surroundings
- Peer counsellors available.
Characteristics of the service provider
- Specially trained staff. The service provider is trained in adolescent- and youth-friendly services.
- Respect for young people. The service provider has respect for young people.
- Privacy and confidentiality. The service provider ensures that there is privacy and keeps the matters regarding the RH problems of the young person confidential.
- Adequate time for client–provider interaction. The service provider gives enough time to interact with the young person.
The four characteristics in the above box relate to the service provider.
Stop reading for a moment and think about this for yourself. You are the service provider. Do you think you have the above four characteristics?
Health facilities that are adolescent- and youth-friendly have a convenient space or room which young people who are in need of sexual and reproductive health services can use without being seen and heard by others. If there is no such space for the young people, they will be waiting for services in the midst of older clients and this will make them uncomfortable.
Stop reading and think of your health facility. Is it possible to arrange a convenient room or space for young people?
Arranging a convenient space or room for young people is not enough by itself. The room should have enough space to ensure privacy and it should be located in a convenient area where the young person can feel comfortable. Otherwise, they may be too embarrassed to come for the services.
Young people also need to have services in hours that are convenient for them.
Stop reading and think about this from your experience. Are the service hours at your health facility convenient for young people?
The third set of characteristics relates to the overall programme design of the reproductive health services for adolescents and youth. This is presented below.
Programme design characteristics
- Involvement of young people in design and continuing feedback. In addition to their involvement during the design, the young people are allowed to give their feedback on the services/programme and their feedback is addressed.
- Involve the young in the health committee to improve the adolescent-friendly services.
- No overcrowding and short waiting times.
- Affordable fees.
- Publicity and recruitment that inform and reassure the young people. The services at the health facility are publicised and young people are made aware of the services.
- Both young men and young women are welcomed and served.
- Wide range of services available.
- Necessary referrals available.
- Educational material available on-site and to take away.
- Group discussions available.
- Alternative ways to access information, counselling and services.
- Parents and community involved to promote and support AYFRH services.
Stop reading and think of your experience. Which of the above programme design characteristics exist at the health facilty in your community? Could you do anything to improve the service offered by your health facility?