5147.0: Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - Board 2

Abstract #9536

Addressing adolescent fertility in Bangladesh: New challenges and approaches for Pathfinder’s newlywed couples program

Shabnam Shahnaz, MBBS, MPH, Mohammad Alauddin, PhD, and Toslim U. Khan, MS, MA. Pathfinder International, 9 Galen Street, Suite 217, Watertown, MA 02472, 617-924-7200, rmorgan@pathfind.org

In Bangladesh, newlywed adolescents (age 15–19) comprise a priority segment of the population needing special consideration. Assigning priority to this group is necessary for three major reasons:

1. The increasing absolute size of this group, 2. The huge unmet need for reproductive health (RH) information and services among this segment, and 3. The group’s potential high momentum effect on future population growth.

Considering the low rate of family planning (FP) use among young couples under the age of 20, Pathfinder designed a pilot project to reach newly married couples in 1993. The program strategy was to reach newlyweds with messages about the benefits of smaller families, postponing childbirth, birth spacing, pregnancy care services, and other reproductive health issues. Implementing NGOs reached young couples with small families and those that had not yet begun childbearing and provided them with information and counseling.

Identification and registration of newly married couples were the initial strategies for reaching this population. Fieldworkers registered every marriage that took place within their geographical area every month, providing one-on-one education and counseling and inviting newlyweds to FP and MCH orientation meetings.

The impact of this program was significant. Contraceptive use among newlyweds more than doubled from 19 percent in 1993 to 39 percent in 1997. Recently, a qualitative assessment was done of the program strategy and interventions. These findings can be used by program planners and managers in other developing countries to design similar programs.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) in this session will be able to: 1. Develop programs to bring a critically underserved group within a community into the mainstream of service delivery. 2. Address the critical adolescent group, and educate them about the availability of services and service delivery points. 3. Create a strategy linking policy to the grassroots level

Keywords: Adolescents, Reproductive Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA