E2A convenes stakeholders to improve outlook for young Nigerians sexual and reproductive health
With a vast portfolio in Africa focused on enabling young people to exercise their right to sexual and reproductive health, the USAID-funded Evidence to Action Project (E2A), with Niger’s Ministry of Public Health (MPH), will convene stakeholders in Niamey, March 17-18, to ignite programs and plans with the potential to vastly improve adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) in the country.
Niger suffers from an under-resourced health system and is home to a large underserved and hard-to-reach youth population with very limited access to health services, making it a country with some of the poorest sexual and reproductive health indicators in the world. Women have an average of more than 7 children in their lifetimes, early marriage and childbearing are pervasive, and contraceptive use among young women is rare: just 13% aged 20-24 and 6% aged 15-19 use contraceptives.
At the upcoming meeting, representatives from the MPH and other relevant government ministries, donors, international and local nongovernment organizations, and student representatives from Niamey’s Abdou Moumouni University, where E2A currently supports an AYSRH program, will discuss best practices that could be applied to improve AYSRH. They will identify gaps and opportunities to strengthen support for AYSRH programs, make plans for assistance with reaching Niger’s national family planning goals and scaling up select best practices, and strengthen national stakeholder collaboration.
E2A will present consolidated AYSRH data and results of an online survey about AYSRH initiatives in Niger, which was conducted before the meeting. For the survey, stakeholders were asked how their activities address the sexual and reproductive health needs of youth Niger and to describe their approaches, the groups they target, and where their activities are located.
A new tool that will be released by E2A in May—Thinking outside the separate space: A decision-making tool for designing youth-friendly services—will also be presented and tested through working group activities during the meeting. Developed with Pathfinder International—E2A’s prime core partner—the tool will help to guide program designers in selecting and adapting appropriate youth-friendly service delivery model(s), considering the country context, the target population, the desired behavioral and health outcomes, the services to be offered, and the needs and objectives for scalability and sustainability.
The meeting builds on the growing presence of the international sexual and reproductive health community in Niger as well as previous meetings held in collaboration with Pathfinder International and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. For example, E2A hosted a regional meeting with the two aforementioned organizations in Dakar last January, where a country team from Niger and the other Ouagadougou Partnership countries shared evidence about AYSRH best practices, discussed their needs and priorities, and developed draft roadmaps for improving AYSRH. Following that meeting, E2A launched the University Leadership for Change program in Niger: a comprehensive behavior-change intervention that is complemented by an effort to strengthen university sexual and reproductive health services at Abdou Moumouni and referral networks.
Also prior to the meeting, E2A and Pathfinder International, in collaboration with the Youth Health and Rights Coalition and the Nigerien organization Lafia Matassa, held a technical exchange with local civil society organizations (CSOs) to identify ongoing advocacy initiatives on AYSRH, assess the policy landscape and its impact of CSO-led work on AYSRH and rights, create a space for collaboration toward advocacy, and build participants’ advocacy skills.
The two meetings complement each other: they both aim to prioritize the best approaches to address AYSRH needs by bringing government representatives, CSOs, and international partners to the table in a coordinated way.
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