UNFPAState of World Population 2004
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HOME: STATE OF WORLD POPULATION 2004: Adolescents and Young People
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Adolescents and Young People

Implementing the ICPD Consensus
Second Generation of Programmes
UNFPA Global Survey Findings
Role of NGOs
Key Health and Development Concerns
Meeting Young People’s Needs
Promoting Healthier Behaviour
Youth-friendly Services
Legal Progress
Key Challenges

UNFPA Global Survey Findings

LAWS AND POLICIES. Over 90 per cent of countries responding to the 2003 UNFPA global survey reported having taken measures to address adolescent reproductive health and rights through policies, laws or programmes.(5) For instance, a law in Panama guarantees the rights of pregnant adolescents to remain in school and receive comprehensive reproductive health care. In Ecuador, a new code on children and adolescents enumerates rights to education, information and reproductive health and integrity.(6) Sierra Leone has established a national youth policy designed to mainstream youth initiatives concerns as central inputs to development policies and programmes. Nepal’s current poverty reduction plan puts priority on adolescent health and education.(7)

HEALTH EDUCATION. Nearly all countries have introduced health education, including life skills, into school curricula (primarily in secondary education) and programmes designed for out-of-school youth. Some also report using peer education to reach youth both in and out of school. Many have introduced programmes to reach those not in school through clubs, camps and workshops, and a number are using the mass media to reach a range of youth with reproductive health information.

In Bolivia, with UNFPA support, the Ministry of Health established a programme for indigenous young women that combines access to reproductive health services, literacy skills in Spanish and indigenous languages, and actions to improve self-esteem. UNESCO awarded it the International Literacy Prize in 2000.(8)

SERVICES. Ninety per cent of countries responding have taken action to provide adolescents with access to reproductive health care. Many have established youth-friendly services designed specifically for young people. Most of these are on a small scale and many are run by NGOs. Vast needs remain. Even where services are available, adolescents may face barriers, including lack of information, stigma, family opposition, negative provider attitudes, fear their confidentiality will be violated, and misconceptions about the safety and side effects of contraceptive methods.

TRAINING, LIFE SKILLS AND PARTICIPATION. A number of countries are providing young people with training, employment and life skills education, and most reported actions to promote youth participation in policy and programme development through advisory councils or informal consultation through workshops and dialogue with youth organizations. Costa Rica has launched a groundbreaking initiative to involve young people in developing a national youth policy through a newly established National Youth Council supported by UNFPA.(9)

CONSTRAINTS. Ten years after the ICPD, providing reproductive health information and services for adolescents is still controversial in some countries. There is wide recognition that adolescents need to be empowered to abstain from sex as a personal choice, or to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies and HIV/AIDS and other STIs if sexually active. Mismatches between needs and care are compounded because adolescents often do not trust health professionals, particularly in crowded government-run clinics, and perceive providers as judgemental and lacking respect for the fundamentals of good care provision, including confidentiality and privacy.

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