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Integrating Adolescent and Youth Reproductive Health Issues into UHC

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Since its introduction, the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) has become more relatable and practical to diverse contexts as it has responded to a host of critical health care needs leading to a significant increase in the number of people – men, women, young people and children – seeking and accessing health information, care and services.

While phasing through adolescence, health needs related to Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) for Adolescents and Youths (AY) have continually evolved to be more apparent, a priority and dynamic.

While it is a natural progression of life, the shift in age and need for specific health needs has been driven by social-economic and cultural factors, and execrated by limited resources. Notably, AYs have over time been viewed as having little health needs occasioning limited to no urgency on the need to plan for and invest in interventions that are responsive to their needs.

This has subsequently led to a case of neglect of AYRH needs in urban, peri-urban and rural areas. The far-reaching SRH negative impacts resonate around matters to do with; unintended/unplanned pregnancy, early sexual debut, gender related violence, and teen marriage among others.

In an effort to guarantee that AYSRH needs are achieved, there is need to design a deliberate action that will transcend contexts and invoke the concepts of demand and supply therein enhancing access by AYs to information, services and commodities at the lowest local level as a benefit of the UHC. For Narok County Government, this opportunity is anchored on a framework known as the AYSRH Framework!

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By forging strategic partnerships the County Government of Narok with the support of International Youth Alliance for Family Planning (IYAFP) embarked on first ever and phenomenal task of developing a framework that would prioritize AYSRH and fast-track its realization within the UHC package by focusing investments to the Primary Health Care (PHC) level.

Such a framework has never been done before since the UHC conceptualization, globally. The County Government of Narok and IYAFP acknowledge and appreciate that Adolescents and Youth cannot be engaged through tokenistic actions, such as simply offering them inconsistent and passive services.

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Health care for this cohort must at all times be meaningful and participatory by granting them responsive, timely, accessible and safe health services at the PHC level as a key focus point.

According to Kenya’s national human population statistics, young people make up over 70% of the total national population – this population (young people) is without a doubt a resource, if harnessed. Notably, following the successful piloting of UHC across the counties of Kisumu, Nyeri, Kiambu, Machakos and Isiolo, the reality and need to focus on Adolescents and Youths (AYs), a group considered highly vulnerable – as a measure to accelerate and achieve positive sexual reproductive health (SRH) indicators by 2030 became more evident as a priority, opportunity and reality.

For the County Government of Narok and IYAFP, the rationale that informed and guided the AYSRH framework concept was based on the recognition that at this level (PHC), there is a greater need to plan for, invest in and facilitate access to health information, quality health care facilities and services.

It is at this point (the PHC level) that the real value of UHC is anchored in Kenya and many-a-country, globally. As a pace-setter in matters RH, Narok County Government perceives that this framework upon completion will significantly increase uptake of service and engagement around knowledge building by AYs therein enhancing positive RH indicators for County.

While the AYSRH framework idea is a first for the County of Narok, Kenya, the African Continent and the world at large, on completion it will be broadly applicable and practicable for other Counties in Kenya as well as Globally in prioritizing and mainstreaming PHC as the cornerstone of UHC success.

By Ger Odock

VIDEO OF THE DAY; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=417MSp7nBwg