Youth-friendly companies scaling up in Kazakhstan, providing important sexual and reproductive well being care
ALMATY, Kazakhstan – “It was my first time with my boyfriend. We didn’t use a condom,” 17-year-old Amina* instructed UNFPA at one of many youth-friendly well being centres in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest metropolis.
Complete sexuality training had not been supplied in her faculty curriculum, and she or he was not comfy elevating such points together with her household. So when her menstrual interval didn’t come as scheduled, Amina panicked. “In two weeks, I noticed I used to be late. I used to be freaking out. I used to be 16 on the time, and there was no approach I may speak to my dad and mom or academics.”
One decade in the past, youth-friendly well being companies – which means well being companies providing medically correct sexual and reproductive well being data, in addition to nonjudgmental care suited to the evolving capacities of adolescents coming into into early maturity – had been extraordinarily restricted within the nation. Whereas there had been non-public ‘well being way of life promotion centres’, these had been largely deemed unprofitable. Fewer than 120 youth-friendly well being companies had been obtainable, primarily in giant cities, serving lower than 1 per cent of the overall inhabitants of younger folks aged 14 to twenty-eight, with inconsistent high quality of care.
Consequently, adolescents have been at heightened danger of sexually transmitted infections, and HIV circumstances are rising on this age group. A UNFPA survey of adolescents in 2019 discovered that 90 per cent of Kazakhstan teenage respondents couldn’t establish all of the methods HIV might be transmitted. Contraceptive prevalence additionally stays low amongst sexually lively youth.
However all that is set to vary.
Tracing the trail of progress
In 2019, as a part of an international movement to improve sexual and reproductive health for allthe Authorities of Kazakhstan dedicated to growing adolescents’ entry to outpatient well being companies and scaling up funding for youth-friendly sexual and reproductive well being companies.
UNFPA labored with policymakers and the well being ministry to develop a complete authorized framework to safe take care of adolescents and younger adults, together with decreasing the age of consent to obtain many outpatient companies from 18 to 16. UNFPA additionally helped to create scientific and operational requirements assembly the World Well being Group’s really helpful high quality requirements.
Current youth-friendly well being companies had been strengthened, and consciousness of their companies was raised inside communities. Laws then mandated such services in each metropolis of the nation, and required that these companies be coated within the obligatory social medical health insurance.
Hundreds reached in simply months
Funding is now flowing into the well being centres, that are providing a variety of companies. “It’s only this yr that we lastly obtained state funding, in January 2023,” stated Dr. Sholpan Karzhaubayeva, who heads one of many centres in Almaty. Since then, “in 4 months, we recorded 3,286 particular person visits to gynaecologists in our centre. In our centre, we additionally present psychological consultations for our younger sufferers.”
Seventeen-year-old Amina was amongst these to obtain care. She defined that lacking her interval after her first sexual encounter had left her frightened and uncertain the place to show. However on the centre, she has been capable of obtain stigma-free data and recommendation from medical doctors.
This sort of care will quickly grow to be the norm. The Almaty centre is taken into account a “useful resource facility”, providing a mannequin for the remainder of the nation’s 170 youth-friendly well being centres, Dr. Karzhaubayeva defined. “We regularly host open day lectures, conduct outreach occasions on the universities and schools, and construct the capability of youth-friendly well being centre specialists all through the nation.”
UNFPA has supported coaching for round 300 physicians, psychologists and social employees, and the state has supplied funding of $35 million between 2021 and 2025, a promising begin for youth-friendly well being companies nationwide.
Already, “the centres are making an incredible distinction,” stated Serik Tanirbergenov, a UNFPA programme analyst on sexual and reproductive well being.
On high of sexual and reproductive well being care being funded, and along with service high quality being raised and standardized, all younger folks might be entitled to care, Mr. Tanirbergenov emphasised.
“All youngsters in Kazakhstan, regardless whether or not they reside in a giant metropolis or a small city, will obtain the identical care.”
*Title modified for privateness
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