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A Rapid Assessment of Youth Friendly Reproductive Health Services

Young people face greater reproductive health (RH) risks than adults, yet they are less willing and able to access RH services. Lack of awareness, inadequate information, and significant barriers posed by the current state of most RH services are perceived as unwelcoming to young clients. Given that the consequences of poor reproductive health in adolescence, such as those stemming from a too-early pregnancy or acquiring an STI or HIV, have serious implications for the future as well as the present, clinical programs need to find practical ways to assess their current operations and take steps to ensure that they are “youth friendly.

The “Clinic Assessment of Youth Friendly Services: A Tool for Rapid Assessment and Improving Reproductive Health for Youth” was developed to facilitate the rapid assessment of youth friendly characteristics, providing the basis for developing and implementing a comprehensive action plan. Among the key issues assessed are provider attitudes, privacy and confidentiality, access to service, supportive policies and administrative procedures. The Tool is implemented through a variety of methods (including provider and client interviews, observation, and review of clinic statistics and policies) and can be used to establish a baseline, prepare a plan for training and service quality improvement, and measure changes in youth-friendliness by conducting periodic reassessments. It also allows for management and staff to become more involved in program operations and provides a means to get input from adolescent clients.

Experiences with the Tool in the four African Youth Alliance (AYA) countries (Botswana, Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda) have shown that numerous service elements require upgrading, if the clinics are to successfully attract and serve young clients. The conducting of these baseline assessments has also resulted in important lessons learned that can be applied to future assessments, all with a primary objective of providing youth with better, more sensitive and relevant RH care.

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