Improving Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health in Senegal

Source
Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, Ideas42

Together, IntraHealth International and the Ministry of Health and Social Action in Senegal, as part of the Neema project which aims to improve health for women and children in Senegal by strengthening health services and making them accessible to more people, we identified behavioral barriers to using contraception and designed solutions to help young people make active decisions about their sexual health.

They conducted a literature review, observed nine health facilities, conducted 80 individual interviews with youth, their parents, and health workers, and conducted 11 focus groups with youth in order to identify behavioral barriers to the use of modern contraception among youth (ages 15-24).

The researchers found that young people do not form an intention to use modern methods of contraception because they:

• Believe they are protected by traditional methods

• Are overconfident in their ability to abstain

• View contraceptive users in a negative light

• Overestimate the social and health costs while underestimating the benefits of contraception

• Have a limited choice set We also found that even youth who intend to use modern methods confront barriers to follow-through, including the social risks of access (stigma) and the challenge of planning ahead for every sexual encounter.

Drawing from these insights, the team designed the Wellness Checkup, a free, private conversation with a nurse or midwife at a local health facility.