Young people in the Asia-Pacific region still have “misunderstandings” on the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) issues which are impacting on their overall health and well-being.
“There are a lot of misunderstandings among young people on the SRH. Youth and adolescents have a high demand to learn about SRH but they lack space and resources to gain information,” Vu Tran Dung, Vice Chair of Youth LEAD, said.
He was speaking at the fourth episode of the 10th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights (APCRSHR10) being held virtually due to Covid-19 pandemic.
The APCRSHR10, and Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia (RHAC) and the CNS are co-hosting the online sessions of the conference – one in every fortnight till December.
Youth was the focus of the latest episode as it took place ahead of the international youth day on August 12. Youth Lead is the largest network of Young Key Populations (YKPs) in Asia and the Pacific.
Tran Dung said current programmes in school are “quite backward and need innovations based on real context”.
“Parents and teachers are key factors affecting youth. Main barrier comes from the management mechanism and policies of local authority.”
He said there is an urgent need to provide an enabling environment for youth and adolescents to speak up, receive and exchange correct information.
“We also need to advocate with local authorities. We must talk openly with them about substance use and its consequences,” he said.
“Cultural mindsets and political barriers block drug users from accessing healthcare services as well as other correct education on drug use. Bills that criminalize drug users violate human rights of many drug users.”
He said the Covid-19 is creating further impacts on their lives as the epidemic has blocked young people from social communication.
The pandemic has also created problems for them to have access to healthcare services.
Conference unites Bangladesh youths
Young people in Bangladesh also face similar challenges when it comes to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
S M Shaikat, Executive Director of SERAC-Bangladesh, a youth focused rights and development organization, speaking at the conference said they have created a national level platform where youths can come and speak about their issues.
SERAC is organising a national level youth conference on family planning since 2016 with over 100 youth advocates.
The project aims to ensure “meaningful and inclusive” participation of youth and adolescents of Bangladesh to amplify effective messages on SRHR and contraception, showcasing programmes on family planning and well-being of young people’s reproductive health in the country.
The 2 days long national conference provides a platform for youth delegates to form networking spaces and to follow up commitments and actions of stakeholders, including youth organisations, institutions, and policy makers on starting and implementing SRHR and family planning activities at community level, after the event till the next year's conference.
“It has created a better understanding of youths around SDGs and how it would support Bangladesh’s indicators around youth and adolescent SRHR,” Shaikat said.