Stepping up youth-friendly reproductive health services

UNFPA Somalia is working with the Puntland Ministry of Health to create a conducive environment for the provision of youth-friendly reproductive health services to the many young people that need them including within a humanitarian setting.

A youth friendly centre is being established in Puntland following a training for health workers in the maternal and child health centers and hospitals from all over the Puntland region, which took place from October 2 to October 4, 2017. The training was supported technically and financially by UNFPA with funding from the Government of Finland.

UNFPA Somalia Programme Analyst for Youth Fatuma Muhumed said this was the first training of its kind to be conducted in Puntland state in which 24 health workers drawn from Garowe, Bossaso, Galkayo and Gardho regions participated.

“The aim of the training was to strengthen the capacity of service providers in providing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services to youth, help them feel more comfortable about SRH and be better equipped to address the subject, ensure integration of youth friendly services in health centres and hospitals as well as reduce providers’ barriers in providing care,” said Ms. Muhumed.

She said young people in Somalia make up an estimated 80 percent of the country’s current population and that the impact of weak social welfare systems, including health care and education has taken its toll on the vulnerable Somali youth, rendering them susceptible to poor physical and mental health.

“Youth friendly reproductive health services in the country are non-existent, preventing young women and men from accessing such vital care at the appropriate time and cost hence this initiative,” said Ms. Muhumed, adding: “preconception care is another vital issue that should be prioritised for first time young mothers because it envisages a continuum of healthy women, healthy mothers, healthy children and promotes reproductive health for couples.’’

Reproductive Health Manager for Puntland Mr. Idiris Abdulahi Mohamed said topics covered during the training included introduction to and characteristics of youth friendly services, the reproductive system, providing SRH information to youth, female genital mutilation (FGM), sexually transmitted illnesses (STIs) including HIV and substance abuse. Others topics were nutrition for young people, birth spacing, abstinence, preconception care, antenatal and postnatal care and gender-based violence (GBV).

“This unique training provided the opportunity for capacity building to health providers to be able to provide the most important youth friendly health services,” said Mr. Mohamed.

He said the training was participatory with lectures, questions and answers sessions after every lecture, group work, plenary discussions and role plays to enhance interpersonal skills for the participants, including active listening skills and other skills required for youth friendly counselling and service provision and history taking.

The fragility of the situation in Somalia over the past 25 years has resulted in the collapse of the health sector and a subsequent focus on emergency responses and interventions to ongoing and recurrent crises. This has resulted in fragmented systems and parallel structures for health care, posing significant barriers for many people to accessing appropriate and quality health services. While gains have been made since 2012, youth friendly reproductive health services are non-existent.

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Pilirani Semu-Banda, Communications Specialist, UNFPA Somalia, Tel: +254 734500439;