GHF2010 – PS03 – Developing Youth Friendly Health Services: Do It Yourself!

Session Outline

Parallel session PS03, Tuesday, April 20 2010, 14:00-15:30, Room 14
Workshop chairs: Anne Meynard, Adolescent and Young Adult Programme, Department of Paediatrics and Department of Community Medicine and Primary Care, Geneva University Hospitals & University of Geneva, Switzerland, Francoise Narring, Adolescent and Young Adult Programme, Department of Paediatrics and Department of Community Medicine and Primary Care, Geneva University Hospitals & University of Geneva, Switzerland, Dagmar M. Haller, Adolescent and Young Adult Programme, Department of Paediatrics and Department of Community Medicine and Primary Care, Geneva University Hospitals & University of Geneva, Switzerland, Paul Bloem, Department of Child and Adolescent Development, World Health Organization, Switzerland, Venkatraman Chandra-Mouli, Department of Child and Adolescent Development, World Health Organization, Switzerland
Summary: Young people meet many barriers in accessing health services. The WHO has led a call for youth-friendly health services that address these barriers by being available, accessible, acceptable, appropriate and equitable for young people. This workshop aims to provide an overview of the characteristics and rationale of youth-friendly health services
Format: In small groups, using WHO framework for youth friendly health services, you will create a project for youth friendly services adapted to your local needs. At the end of the workshop, the authors will be available for further discussion and exchange with participants who may have their own experience of developing youth-friendly health services. This is a one and a half hour interactive workshop using an EuTEACH format (European Training in Effective Adolescent Care and Health).
Access to Quality care for Young People
Paul Bloem, Department of Child and Adolescent Development, World Health Organization, Switzerland
Implementation of Youth-Friendly Family Medicine Services in Bosnia and Herzegovina 
Anne Meynard, Adolescent and Young Adult Programme, Department of Paediatrics and Department of Community Medicine and Primary Care, Geneva University Hospitals & University of Geneva, Switzerland

Session Documents

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Session Report

Submitted by: Francoise Dumont (ICVolunteers)

Photo by John Brownlee, ICVolunteers.org

With 20% of global citizens being defined as adolescent, it is vital to provide appropriate health services to this large population. Accordingly, it is essential that medical organisations develop programmes to ensure that these individuals develop into adulthood safely, thus providing for our global future.

In the past, youth health may have been taken for granted as something that exists but is not of great importance. This must change explained Mr. Paul Bloem, of the Department of Child and Adolescent Development at the World Health Organization (WHO), who stated that youth friendly health services (YFHS) work to provide accessible and equitable health services to adolescents. Adolescents, defined as 10 to 19 year-olds, have one of the largest mortality rates of any social group.

Although statistics prove the need for youth friendly health services, death among adolescents is not the primary reason for their development. Rather, it is the health behaviours of adolescence which has stimulated the growing interest in services particularly designed for youth. Today 1/3 of total disease risk behaviours, including obesity and tobacco and alcohol use, are found among youth.

Accordingly, the WHO has developed a standard framework for Ministers of Health in various countries to follow when developing youth friendly health services. To begin, the health sectors in these countries should provide life skills information and counselling services in a safe and supportive environment. Providing youth opportunities to participate in the development of their own services also plays a vital role in the programme. In order to achieve this, the "4 S's" should be followed: Strategic information or the development of policies geared towards adolescents; Supportive policies, such as the expansion of counselling services for youth; Services and commodities, as in the provision of birth control; and Strengthening other sectors in order to provide a multidisciplinary approach.

Ms. Anne Meynard, from the Geneva University Hospital Adolescent and Young Adult Programme, introduced a case study from Bosnia and Herzegovina where a youth-friendly family medicine service, Fondacija Fami, was implemented. Although established, the programme is still working to develop national standards concerning YFHS and to raise awareness of these issues in Bosnia Herzegovina. For this specific programme to prosper, the Fondacija Fami will need to make maximum use of existing local resources and create projects which are culturally and politically sustainable.

Yet some may question the necessity of such services in an already difficult global medical climate. Ideas concerning the need to separate YFHS from general adult and child services form the basis of these concerns. As the developers have found, certain barriers have arisen to the promotion of YFHS, primarily consisting of communication gaps between different social groups and health professionals. Generational gaps, miscommunication between youth and health workers and societal norms can all provide barriers to the promotion of YFHS in various regions. However, it is vital that the world's youth be provided with services that not only help them but teach them about what to avoid and to expect about risk behavior. Skills training based in age communication should also be provided for the health workers so that they can provide outreach with a high degree of confidentiality.

After much research and development, the WHO would like to see these YFHS made accessible, acceptable and equitable to the user through comprehensive, appropriate and effective action on the part of the provider.

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