Arinda Isaac’s story | Empowering Health Workers to Provide Youth Friendly SRHR Services.
Increasing the utilization of sexual and reproductive services is greatly dependent on the positive attitude of the health workers towards its provision to young people of ages 15-24. It is for this reason that Shared Action Africa is amplifying the contribution made by Isaac Arinda, a health worker and advocate for increased utilization and access of sexual and reproductive care of adolescents and young people at Nshungyezi HCIII in Oruchinga refugee settlement. Prior to receiving specialized training, Isaac had a very poor attitude towards adolescents and young people that sought sexual and reproductive care at the health facility where he worked. Like other members of his community, he though that providing contraceptives to young people was tantamount to promoting promiscuity among these age group. However, after the training he provided, it was he has been one of the biggest advocates for adolescent sexual and reproductive rights among his peers.
“As health workers, we often are not interested in helping young people access sexual and reproductive health care due to our own personal biases, beliefs, and prejudices. Prior to my training on adolescent sexual and reproductive health care and rights, I was among those health workers would decline to serve young people because I believed I would be perpetuating moral decadency in our community. However, after learning that access and use of SRHR services is a human right, but also that it works as a preventive measure against several societal evils such as unplanned and teenage pregnancies, I was won over.
It is for this reason, that when the first youth friendly space was established at Nshungyezi health facility, I applied to be the person in charge of managing this space. I am therefore happy to be working in partnership with Shared Action Africa to provide counselling to the youth and I feel honored to be the person privileged to pilot such as initiative that will have a lasting impact among our communities. This is because when young people are offered an opportunity to access services and information concerning their reproductive health, we would be mitigating against early childhood pregnancies and are rampant in the settlement.
I am confident this will happen gradually because I am part of the team that is promoting voluntary family planning among young people, and also encourage them to not only conduct regular testing for HIV, but also advise them to always use protection whenever they uninformed about their partner’s HIV status. However, for those that find themselves in a situation where they have had unprotected sex, we provide them with not only emergency contraceptive but also encourage them to seek Prep treatment to prevent HIV infection.
However, while we have established a youth friendly corner at Nshungezi HCIII, we need further support to help equip it so that young people are encouraged to come and come interact with others as they are counselled on their sexual and reproductive health care and rights as well as receive services that meet their needs. There has been an integration of youth friendly services in outreaches as this gives the youth a chance to confidently show up and participate in health education talks. We have also allocated Saturdays as a special day for them to attend to the youth. “