Thank you for sharing the link [https://www.k4health.org/toolkits/youthpolicy] to K4Health’s Youth Policy Toolkit, Neil. These resources are so useful, and need to be promoted widely.
I was particularly drawn to one sentence you quoted from the Toolkit, Neil: “Yet many people lack access to contraception and related information; in fact, young people have the highest levels of unmet need for family planning of any population.” I was reminded of an important Guttmacher report from 2016, Unmet Need for Contraception in Developing Countries: Examining Women’s Reasons for Not Using a Method (Sedgh et al). We often discuss information generally, but we need to be more targeted in our conversations and our language. We should try to understand why sexually active young women have high levels of unmet need. Sedgh et al (2016)’s report demonstrated that it is not simply about access to contraceptives or basic information. Rather, the most common reasons for non-use of contraceptives were infrequent sex and concerns about contraceptive side effects.
These insights are crucial in helping to focus programs on content of family planning-related information for youth. Youth-friendly services must include rights-based counseling with the option to discuss sexual frequency and real risk of pregnancy. In addition, a comprehensive mix of methods is essential as women sometimes discontinue and change methods due to side effects.
Although the Guttmacher Report had these overall findings for sexually active unmarried women aged 15-24, there were region-specific and country-specific differences. As we are designing our interventions, we are wise to keep in mind these and even more specific qualitative insights of women’s and men’s experiences to ensure that our interventions are meaningful.
HIFA profile: Amelia Plant is a consultant in sexual & reproductive health research & practice. She is originally from the USA and is currently based in Tunis, Tunisia. asiplant AT gmail.com