Family planning remains one of the top priorities in the Bangladesh’s 4th Health Sector Programme 2017-2021, as a path toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Bangladesh has prioritized implementing the national action plan for postpartum family planning, reducing social and geographical disparity through providing regional family planning packages in Sylhet and Chittagong divisions, and addressing unmet needs among adolescents and youth by operationalizing the national adolescent health strategy. Where modern contraceptive prevalence rate (mCPR AW) 46.3%, unmet need for modern contraception (MW) 18.9%, (current estimate for 2019). Bangladesh reiterates its commitment to end child marriage. It has framed the National Strategy for Adolescent Health 2017-2030, and initiated 603 Adolescent Friendly Health Centers across the country. However, there are unfinished businesses around young people’s universal access to reproductive health services and information. As one of 69 Family Planning (FP2020) focus countries Bangladesh is also stepping beyond 2020 and looking forward to newer commitments and goals. Putting this forward as an opportunity to push for meaningful youth participation, SERAC-Bangladesh with the support from Population Action International (PAI) hosted an e-consultation on 29th July, Wednesday with the FP2020 country Engagement Working Group members and focal points, Directorate General of Family Planning, Ministry of Health, FP2020 Secretariat, UN agencies, INGOs, other stakeholders, and youth representatives from all divisions of the country to mainstream the voice and need for young people’s participation in the next level of family planning programs and goals.
The meeting was chaired by the Director General of Family Planning Shahan Ara Banu, NDC, with the moderation of SERAC-Bangladesh Executive Director SM Shaikat. Speakers included DGFP’s Line Director (MCH Services) Dr. Mohammed Sharif, Line Director (CCSDP) Dr. Md. Moinuddin Ahmed, deputy chief of the Ministry of Health Abdus Salam Khan, DGFP Program Manager (MCH) Dr. Jaynal Haque, FP2020 CSO Focal Point Dr. Abu Jamil Faisel, Country Director of Population Council Dr. Ubaidur Rob, Advocacy Manager of Marie Stopes Bangladesh Monjun Nahar, Adolescent and Youth Engagement Manager of FP2020 Secretariat Emily Sullivan, Director of Social Marketing Company Toslim Khan, Adolescent Specialist of Pathfinder International Dr.Fatema Shabnam, and Dr. Sanjida Hasan of International Planned Parenthood Federation.
UNFPA Bangladesh’s SRH specialist Dr. Abu Sayed M. Hasan presented that the total fertility rate (TFR) from 2011 to 2017 remained constant at 2.3 which was targeted to get reduced to 2. During the expert discussion, Dr. Jaynal Haque said the DGFP is working to mainstream the participation of young people in FP2020 and adolescent programs. In his remarks, Dr. Abu Jamil Faisel proposed grassroots levels engagement of youths, and their active representation at the FP2020 and beyond processes. Dr. Moinuddin Ahmed mentioned to ensure affordable FP services inputs from youth in the FP2020 country group is a timely demand. Dr. Mohammed Sharif assured to increase scopes of meaningful youth participation in the expected FP2030 goals, and policies to be planned to achieve targets set in the national adolescent health strategy. He also quoted his team is working on the current operational plan (OP) to revise and bring required changes to meet the unmet needs of adolescents and young people.
Emily Sullivan from FP2020 secretariat confirmed their committed support towards engaging more youths with the FP2020 and beyond processes and hoped that Bangladesh as a Track-20 country will put young people in the center of every policy and commitments.
Deputy Chief of the Medical Education and Family Welfare division of the Ministry of Health Abdus Salam Khan urged the youths to come forward with specific implementable recommendations which will be supported to frame the next level of goals and other programs. Director of SMC, Toslim Khan stressed to include private sector to reduce unmet need of FP among adolescents and youth. Monjun Nahar, Advocacy Manager of Marie Stopes Bangladesh raised the issue of adolescent unmet needs conjoining with the current COVID19 pandemic, and urged all stakeholders to collaborate in tackling the new normal challenge in FP sector.
In her speech, the Director General of Family Planning Shahan Ara Banu made bold statements to ensure and support meaningful and active youth presence at the FP2020 and beyond process. She mentioned the DGFP is playing a key role in preventing maternal mortality and advancing the SRHR of adolescent and youths. She thanked SERAC-Bangladesh and assured to support youth recommendations on family planning.
SM Shaikat, Executive Director of SERAC-Bangladesh concluded as the FP2020 had limited scopes for youth engagement which need to improve and now is the best time to engage young people from every corner of the country in framing goals for themselves. SERAC and its partners including PAI is committed to ensure this.
Others including DGFP Assistant Director Matiur Rahman, SERAC Program Director Shahina Yasmin, Associate Program Officer Nusrat Sharmin Resma, Nahidur Rahman, Program Officer Tasnia Ahmed, Rokonol Rabbi, divisional coordinators, IYAFP country coordinator Tamzid Shikder, and youth representatives from across the country attended the event.