3rd National Level Advocacy meeting on adolescent-friendly health services was held at Dhaka on February 27, 2023 by SERAC-Bangladesh with the support from the Directorate General of Family Planning (DGFP), and Pathfinder International under the USAID Shukhi Jibon project.
The meeting was moderated by the Executive Director of SERAC-Bangladesh SM Shaikat with the chair Director (MCH-Services) and Line Director (MC-RAH) Dr. Md. Mahmudur Rahman. Beside them Joint Secretary of Health, Education & Family Welfare; Md. Abdus Salam Khan, Line Director of IEM Unit, Joint Secretary & Dhaka Divisional Director of Family Planning Md. Mahbub Alam, CSO Focal Point, FP2030, Dr. Abu Jamil Faisal, Senior Associate, Department of International Health Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Dr. Halida Hanum Akhter, Director, Program Manager (A & RH), (MCH-S), Directorate General Of Family Planning, Dr. Md. Monjur Hossain, Divisional Family Planning Office, Mymensingh, Mohammed Abdul Awal, Deputy Director Dhaka District Family Planning office, Mohammad Aman Ullah, Deputy Director of Narayanganj District Family Planning Office, Swapan Kumar Sharma, Deputy Director of Netrokona District Family Planning Office Niranjan Bandhu Dam, Director, MCHTI Dr. Md. Shamsul Karim, Director, Mohammadpur Fertility Services Center Dr. Muniruzzaman Siddiqui, Assistant Director (Coordination) of Directorate General of Family Planning (MCH) Md. Matiur Rahman, and Program Manager of Adolescent & School Health from DGHS Dr. Shamsul Haque were also present on the occasion. There also present Regional Program Manager of Pathfinder International Dhaka Dr. Farhana Huq, Adolescent Behavior Change Manager, Pathfinder International Sohrab Hussain and 40 Volunteer Peer Leaders from 20 Adolescent friendly health service centers of Dhaka, Narayanganj, Mymensingh & Netrokona, Assistant Director of SERAC-Bangladesh, Mr. Md. Salim Miah, Program Manager Tasnia Ahmed, Associate Program Officer Shafiullah Lemon, Program Officer Songita Sarkar, Program Associate, Lutfa Pathan, Finance and Admin Officer Omar Faruk Khan, IT & Communication Associate Iftikharul Islam Ha-meem also joined in the meeting.
SM Shaikat, Executive Director of SERAC-Bangladesh, We are working as a support system for the Adolescent Friendly Health Services in these 20 centers.Through the engagement of young volunteers helping service providers at the service center. Everyone’s opinion about this program is needed for the planning of such activities in the future. SERAC-Bangladesh will always work to ensure quality health services to adolescents and assure co-operation with DGFP.
Dr. Md. Mahmudur Rahman, Director (MCH-Services) and Line Director (MC-RAH), said, the post of counselor and volunteer peer leader should be included in the operational plan of the Directorate General of Family Planning. The scope of this activity has to be increased. In the meantime, a recommendation has been received from the ministry to include the activities of young volunteers in the 5th Sector Plan. If the VPL team is formed through the involvement of youth, Bangladesh will be a developed country in 2041.
Md. Abdus Salam Khan, Joint Secretary of Health, Education & Family Welfare; Necessary measures have to be taken to bring the activities of the young volunteers into the main plan of activities of the DGFP and the DGHS.
Md. Mahbub Alam, Director, Divisional Family Planning Office, Dhaka, said that, instead of being an adolescent-friendly health care corner, it should be a well-equipped and all-pervading room. Each center should have a room where counselors and volunteer peer leaders will provide services to adolescents. It is necessary to provide adequate guidance and training to the volunteers to improve the quality of service. These experiences of the project should be published in the form of information.
Dr. Abu Jamil Faisal, CSO Focal Point, FP2030, The Volunteer Peer Leader program should keep on-going and the work guidelines, action tools, and what they do have to be mentioned. The VPL program has to be attached to the school. Each center should have at least one VPL. He drew the attention of the DGFP to take initiative to operate the Volunteer Peer Model from the funds of the DGFP.
Dr. Md. Monjur Hossain, Program Manager (A & RH), (MCH-S), Directorate General Of Family Planning; Schools have to be connected with this model. The VPLs are doing well. This model needs to be taken further.
Dr. Halida Hanum Akhter, Senior Associate, Department of International Health Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; All the activities that are being implemented through this project should be documented beautifully. So that it can be followed and worked on later. More attention has to be drawn to the health of adolescent girls and life saving campaigns should be done.
Niranjan Bandhu Dam, Deputy Director of Netrokona District Family Planning Office, This project needs to be associated with the Ministry of Education. It will be possible to provide more services to adolescents if such a corner is made not only center-based but also in schools. The integration of volunteer peer leaders in all centers will ensure quality health care for adolescents. Hopefully, work will be done at the field level through the new opinions that have emerged from today’s discussion.
Mohammad Aman Ullah, Deputy Director Dhaka District Family Planning office, Through the Volunteer Peer Leader model at the SERAC-Bangladesh Adolescent-Friendly Health Care Center, adolescents have learned about the center and the number of attendances at the center has also increased. Following the references of 20 service centers, he recommended taking the model to the national level. Besides, we have to think about bringing those with special needs under service. We have to try to connect this model to the Fifth Sector Program.
The meeting purpose was to exchange views on the inclusion of youth in family planning activities and efficiency of volunteer peer leader services in adolescent-friendly health service centers in the current context. The invited guests mentioned the integration of volunteer peer leaders’ activities in other service centers. They also recommended including the Volunteer Peer Model in the 5th Sector Plan of the Directorate General of Family Planning.