Young people in Bangladesh have limited access to quality information on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and quality Youth-Friendly Sexual and Reproductive Health (YFSRH) services. This is due to a multitude of factors including poverty, socio-cultural beliefs and norms, and weak policy implementation. As a result, rates of teenage pregnancies and unsafe abortion are high, as is the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and STIs.
Fortunately the Government of Bangladesh sees reproductive health as a priority. Its Health Population and Nutrition Sector Development Programme (HPNSDP) 2011-2016 has a strong focus on maternal and child health, as well as tuberculosis and reducing the spread of HIV. However, despite a supportive policy environment, recognition of sexual health is still lacking in Bangladesh. Furthermore, national policy initiatives are not always included in local level service implementation.
This gap between policy and service delivery on the ground is reflected in poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes: for example, nearly 60 women in Bangladesh die every day from complications relating to pregnancy or childbirth. In addition, there is still a general lack of access to, and use of, family planning services.
Simavi believes that access to quality information and services leads to improved SRHR for young people, which will in turn lead to healthier communities.
All young people living in poor rural and (semi) urban areas, irrespective of their age, gender, social background or sexual preference, know their Sexual and Reproductive health (SRH) rights, take informed decisions about their SRH and have access to high quality, youth-friendly SRH services within a supportive socio-cultural and political environment.
- To make SRHR information available to adolescents in and out of school.
- To develop an affordable, high-quality, fully biodegradable sanitary napkins in collaboration with a private sector partner in Bangladesh, SMC.
- To create a support base for the interventions. An increased focus on creating an enabling environment will contribute to the programme’s impact and sustainability. Furthermore, we will strengthen the capacity of community stakeholders like youth, parents and teachers to support the advocacy strategy.
- To sign a MoU with the Ministry of Health that covers the training of health workers in national standards on youth-friendly SRHR services.
Unite for Body Rights 2 (UBR2) in Bangladesh will be implemented by Simavi, Rutgers, BracIED, Bandhu and Nairipokkho. The programme supports 6 local implementing partner organisations in improving the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people, women and marginalised groups.
The programme combines the following intervention strategies to promote SRHR for all:
- Creating access to SRHR information through education in and out of school.
- Creating access to quality YFSRH through UBR health clinics and ensuring government clinics comply with national standards.
- Raising awareness amongst (community) stakeholders and building their capacity to support, and advocate for, the provision of SRHR education and services.
- Lobby the Government of Bangladesh for the inclusion of UBR strategies and models in government structures and strategies.
The activities that will take place within the above mentioned strategies include (but are not limited to):
- Training teachers to deliver Comprehensive Sexuality Education in schools
- Training Youth Officers to deliver Comprehensive Sexuality Education
- Providing Youth Friendly Sexual and Reproductive Health Services through UBR health clinics
- Training health workers on Youth Friendly Service Delivery according to national standards
- Organising SRHR sessions for parents, men, community and Government stakeholders
- Building capacity of community stakeholders and young people to support our advocacy strategy and hold their government to account
- Advocating for inclusion of CSE in Teacher Training Curriculum and of YFSRHR service provision in national Health Worker Training Curriculum
Sustainability of this programme can be realised on different levels. To follow Simavi’s FIETS model, these levels are: Financial, Institutional, Environmental, Technical and Social. In UBR2 the FIETS model will be used as an entry point to sustainability and will be built on the lessons learned during UBR1. Both strengthening government health systems in target upazilas and creating community ownership will be priority, to ensure an enabling environment at community and at national level. Increasing the base of support for the UBR approach, will increase the impact of the advocacy activities within UBR2. New partners such as BNPS and Nairipokkho have a strong track record on advocacy that can strengthen the current efforts.
This programme was still in inception phase in 2016. In this programme, Simavi provides technical assistance on planning, monitoring, evaluation and learning on social accountability.