Expanding Contraceptive Access to Youth in Latin America

ampliandoelacceso_0.jpgAdvocacy efforts through Ampliando El Acceso (“Expanding Access”) are beginning to yield results through a new partnership in Latin America that pairs Advance Family Planning’s advocacy approach with the experience of member associations from the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere region. Ampliando El Acceso, an independently-funded one-year project, seeks to expand access to contraceptive information and services for youth in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico.

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs predicts that by 2020, the adolescent fertility rate in the Latin America and Caribbean region will be the highest in the world[i]. Currently, one in three women is a mother before her 20th birthday and 20 percent of all adolescent pregnancies occur among girls younger than 15[ii].

Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico have recently taken critical steps forward to improving youth-friendly contraceptive services in partnership with local advocates.

Including Youth-friendly Services in Rionegro’s Development Plan

In May 2016, the Secretary of Health in the municipality of Rionegro, Colombia formally adopted recommendations to implement youth-friendly services in its Development and Health Plan (2016-2020). Inclusion of adolescents in the plan is crucial—programs will not be implemented if they are not laid out in the municipal development plan. The recommendations are a result of collaboration between a multi-sectoral technical commission, the Secretary of Health, and local Ampliando El Acceso advocacy partner PROFAMILIA COLOMBIA.

Next, PROFAMILIA will monitor the development plan to ensure that the health sector implements the recommendations. They will then monitor the municipal budget to ensure that the program has adequate resources for implementation.

Piloting Social Monitoring of Youth-friendly Services in Mexico

In June 2016, the Ministry of Health’s National Center of Gender Equality and Reproductive Health (NCGERH) endorsed using a social monitoring model to improve youth access to contraception in Mexico. Developed by Ampliando El Acceso advocacy partner MEXFAM MEXICO, the model evaluates the extent to which adolescents have access to a range of contraceptives and youth-friendly care in public health centers. It is currently being piloted in the states of Oaxaca, Hidalgo, and San Luis Potosi. 

Once the pilot programs in the three states are completed, MEXFAM will present their findings to the NCGERH and state health authorities, along with recommendations on how to improve youth access to contraception. If formally approved after the pilot, MEXFAM’s social monitoring program would be adopted by the Ministry of Health on a national scale. The program would assess the quality of adolescent reproductive health services and certify whether or not these services are youth-friendly. 

Developing a Protocol for Youth-friendly Services in the Dominican Republic

In September 2016, the Minister of Health of the Dominican Republic (DR) presented a new national protocol for youth-friendly family planning services to the National Health Service, the media and civil society. The protocol will ensure health care providers in all public and private health facilities in the country deliver quality and confidential sexual and reproductive health care for young people. It will also ensure that there is an adequate budget for training of staff in the new protocol, and will measure the quality of services provided. The implementation of the protocol will likely begin in early 2017; currently, the protocol is awaiting official signoff by the Minister.

Ampliando el Acceso partner PROFAMILIA-DR and other civil society organizations collaborated with the Ministry and Social Cabinet of the DR to create the protocol. Once the protocol is in place, PROFAMILIA-DR will conduct follow-up social audits to ensure the protocol is being fully implemented.

[i] Rodríguez, J. (2013). “High adolescent fertility in the context of declining fertility in Latin America”. Expert Paper, No. 2013/14. CELADE-Population Division of ECLAC. New York: United Nations.

[ii] Vivencias y relatos sobre el embarazo en adolescentes. Plan International and UNICEF, August 2014.        

Thursday, November 17, 2016 - 09:00