179143 Empowering rural adolescents through information: Experience of Save the Children USA in Bangladesh

Monday, October 27, 2008

Shahana Nazneen , Health, Population and Nutrition Sector, Save the Children USA, Bangladesh Field Office, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh
Adolescents, usually, are vulnerable to reproductive health problems because of their physical and mental characteristics and unfavorable social circumstances. Studies reveal adolescents' poor reproductive health knowledge which is often incorrect and inconsistent. Adolescents rarely get this information from their parents/ teachers; they do not have access to accurate information that has influence over their care and help seeking behaviors. To fulfill this unmet need by increasing adolescents' accessibility and availability to reproductive and sexual health information through creating community information outlets, Save the Children USA established Adolescent Information Centres at village level in 2003 under Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health (ARSH) Program in Nasirnagar sub-district, Bangladesh.

Adolescent Information Centres are located at household level, providing resource and recreation materials for adolescents' development. Group and individual reading sessions are being held for both literate and non-literate adolescents, using resource materials. Local adolescent volunteers run these centres, assisted by community represented management committee.

Community realized the importance of adolescents' knowledge and donated their spaces for 15 Adolescent Information Centres. From 2003 to 2007, about 7,000 local adolescent girls and boys participated regularly in different group and individual reading sessions. Several interviews and focus group discussions with adolescents demonstrated their changes after being equipped with reproductive health information through the centres. Adolescents become empowered through the process which helps them to continue the knowledge enhancement activities by their own after Save's departure as well as mobilizing resources for sustainability at community level. This initiative is an example of adolescent empowerment through information provision.

Learning Objectives:
At the end of the session,the participants will be able to - - Identify the importance of increasing reproductive and sexual health knowledge of rural adolescents - Apply this community-based approach in other setting based on the adolescentsí needs and context

Keywords: Adolescents, Reproductive Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I developed the program, collected the information and wrote the abstract for APHA.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.