Dear HIFA colleagues,
Thank you so much for your valuable contributions in week 1. We have been exploring Question 1: "What types of information and services on RH/FP do children and youth need? How do these information and service needs change over time?"
We have heard from HIFA members in DR Congo, Nigeria, South Africa, Switzerland, UK, USA, and Zimbabwe! Here are some selected highlights:
INFORMATION AND SERVICES FOR CHILDREN (0-17 YEARS)
Shabina Hussain, USA: Children aged 8-10 year olds need health education about normal human physiology in an age appropriate manner. That should include health and hygiene, nutrition and reproductive/sexual health education. Their questions on the topic must be adequately addressed. Objective evidence based age appropriate RH/SH education and counseling must be freely available.
Andre Shongo, DR Congo: The basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology are useful to introduce the girls aged to 8-14 to incoming puberty, the meaning of getting the first periods and how to manage them.
Clare Hanbury, UK: What needs to be carefully weighed up are providing the right kind of information in the right way at the right developmental stage to children. This is called scope and sequence by curriculum developers, and needs to be done by people who know a great deal about the topics plus have experience in child development. As an experienced classroom teacher of this age group and a health educator for three decades - it concerns me that many lobby for RH/FP topics to be put into curricula at times inappropriate to the age and stage of the children. I am even unhappy with the Unesco guidelines in this respect. For me their scope and sequence is good BUT it is begun too young... : In my mind the 'right way' to tackle these topics is to give enough space and discussion and using a lifeskills approach from the age of 10/12. Teachers' capacity needs to be developed to 'facilitate' vs 'teach' these topics and give room for discussion to the youngsters to express their views. This is even more important in an age when a lot of young adolescents are able to access information on the internet and via a phone but they do not have sufficient opportunity to make sense of the issues alongside adults who care about them and who can help tackle misinformation.
Venus Mushinga, Zimbabwe: In Zimbabwe the school curriculum has been recently changed to include appropriate sexual education at an early age.
Karah Pedersen, USA: The guidance provides learning objectives grouped by age to ensure they are age appropriate… For example, learning objective for 5-8 year olds related to SRH might be to learn the names and functions of one's body.
INFORMATION FOR YOUTH (15-24 YEARS)
Nandita Thatte: Switzerland: I would argue that "what" types of information and RH/FP services youth need are the same as what adults need! That is, rights-based, good quality services provided by a well-trained unbiased provider...
Fikre Keith, USA: Increased access to mobile phones have provided an avenue for youth to be exposed to negative sexual platforms... Often times youth are not able to access information from health centers because of stigma or embarrassment, thus using mHealth as a platform is beneficial. There are several projects that K4Health has listed in the research brief: Mobile Phone Programs For Adolescent And Youth Sexual And Reproductive Health in Low- And Middle-Income Countries...
INFORMATION AND SERVICES FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH
Andre Shongo, DR Congo: Children; adolescent and young mobile phone ownership and unlimited access to… pornographic images and videos… Yet, the talk about sex is taboo in the DRC in these ages, and most adults don’t allow any related discourse… Considering the ICTs impact on children and young; the comprehensive sexual education need to be done…
Karah Pedersen, USA: UNCESCO's International technical guidance on sexuality education  … promotes structured learning about sex and relationships in a manner that is positive, affirming, and centered on the best interest of the young person. Remembering that young people of a certain age are not a homogenous group, it takes into account specific sexual and reproductive health (SRH) circumstances such as young people living with HIV, living in poverty, living with disabilities, etc..
Karah Pedersen, USA: This [UNESCO] guidance document also summarized their recent evidence review (conducted in 2016) that reaffirms that curriculum-based sexuality education programmes contribute to the following outcomes:
1) Delayed initiation of sexual intercourse
2) Decreased frequency of sexual intercourse
3) Decreased number of sexual partners
4) Reduced risk taking
5) Increased use of condoms
6) Increased use of contraception
Joseph Ana, Nigeria: Large sections of society in LMICs believe that modern contraception promotes promiscuity… Health workers in general are cowed by the authority of these leaders[and]are likely to be very quiet / inactive in the debate.
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
Erika Bostock, South Africa: RuReSA (Rural Rehab South Africa) has been approached by nurses about the provision of Sexual and Reproductive Health Services for persons with disabilities... Can HIFA members please assist us?
Question 1 is a huge topic and I would like to suggest we continue to discuss the question, and the above issues, during week 2. Please share your experience and views by email to: email@example.com
To review all four questions, see our landing page here: http://www.hifa.org/news/join-hifa-global-discussion-addressing-reproduc...
This thematic discussion will continue for another three weeks. Our thanks to K4Health for sponsorship. We have learned a lot already and we look forward to learning more.
Joint Coordinator, HIFA Project on Family Planning
Let's build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare information - Join HIFA: www.hifa.org
HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 18,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on five global forums in three languages. He also currently chairs the Dgroups Foundation (www.dgroups.info), which supports 800 communities of practice on international development, health and social justice. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG firstname.lastname@example.org