Youth have limited access to reproductive health info
Community health centers (Puskesmas) in Bali are still unable to reach out and provide reproductive healthcare and information to the island’s teen population, a youth advocate claimed.
I Gusti Agung Mahendra, coordinator of Kita Sayang Remaja (Kisara - We Care for Youth), explained that Puskesmas already had programs for teenagers.
“But few teenage patients come to Puskesmas for healthcare services or information on reproductive and sexual health,” said Mahendra.
Kisara is part of the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (PKBI).
Puskesmas in Denpasar, he said, had launched teen programs, such as teen counseling, as well as health facilities for young patients.
“But their programs are not youth-friendly ones and young people feel discouraged from going there,” Mahendra explained.
Access by young patients to puskesmas across Bali reaches no more than 1,000 persons per year, a relatively low coverage.
At Kisara’s clinic, dozens of young girls and boys come to share their problems — such as unexpected pregnancies and other reproductive health issues.
“The government should establish clinics and healthcare establishments catering to young patients. Many young people are reluctant to go to the Puskesmas as they receive unfair and judgmental treatment from healthcare providers,” he said.
Their reluctance was dangerous since many young girls did not receive proper treatment when they fell pregnant and could end up having unsafe abortions.
Starting on Thursday, Kisara launched a new program called “I am Young with Choices” aimed at reaching out to 2,000 teens every year and to involve them in various reproductive health and sex education programs, such as knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV prevention, as well as contraception.
The new program, to run until 2014, is being supported by the Netherlands-based Choice Foundation. It targets high school students, as well as marginalized youth living in under-privileged neighborhoods.
The program will also reach out to communities, such as members of Seka Banjar (village youth organizations) and youth involved in water sports, such as surfers.
Programs for high school students will be focused on reproductive health education and prevention, while youth in the communities will have awareness programs to foster healthy living.
Nurul, a student from SMAN 3 in Denpasar, said that reproductive and sexual education must be presented in an attractive, informative and clear way.
“Such programs are usually delivered in a monotonous and unfriendly atmosphere,” Nurul said.
I Ketut Sukanatha, director of the PKBI, explained that limited access for young people to reproductive healthcare and education had increased the possibility of them becoming infected with HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.