UNFPA – Youth Health Line Center

“Girls and boys in our society often do not have anyone to turn to for help. However, by calling the Youth Health Line, 120, they can talk to a telephone counselor without being embarrassed or judged.” said H.E. Dr. SurayaDalil, Minister of Public Health.

During the first five month (12 August to 31 December 2012), a total of 7,172 young people consulted counselors through the YHL, of whom 79.3 % were young women and girls and 20.7% young men and boys from different parts of Kabul city. In a country where people highly rely on TV and Radio for getting information and the culture of reading is not very wide spread, it is difficult for youth to get information, particularly information about their reproductive health, especially for girls. Talking to parents about sexual or reproductive health is considered a taboo and in some instances as impolite, which makes it difficult to get any such information.

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The Ministry of Public Health, with the financial and technical support of the United Nations Population Fund and its implementing partner, Afghan Family Guidance Association (AFGA), established a phone line to provide youth friendly health counseling.

“Girls and boys in our society often do not have anyone to turn to for help. However, by calling the Youth Health Line, 120, they can talk to a telephone counselor without being embarrassed or judged.” said H.E. Dr. SurayaDalil, Minister of Public Health.

Two counselors, one male and one female follow the Youth Health Line main principles of providing accurate and timely information, as well as an opportunity for dialogue.

Najiba 18 years old come to Youth Health Line Center to talk to the counselor in person. “I had problem with memorizing my lessons and if someone talked to me, while I was studying, I misbehaved and treated them badly. I mean I should be OK to study but also talk to friends and don’t offend them. So I came here to seek help from the counselor. ” Najiba Said.

“Evidence has shown that comprehensive sexual education that is age-appropriate, gender-sensitive and life skills-based can provide young people with the knowledge, skills and efficacy to make informed decisions about their sexual life. When young people are equipped with accurate and relevant information, and access to counseling and Reproductive Health services that are non-judgmental and affordable, they are better able to take advantage of educational and other opportunities that will impact their lifelong well-being, and also avoid unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions, improve their sexual and reproductive health and protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections including HIV” said Dr. Laurent Zessler, UNFPA Representative in Afghanistan.

UNFPA plans to expand Youth Health Line to other major cities of Afghanistan, such as; Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-e Sharif and Jalalabad provinces to cover more youth and provide them information about their sexual reproductive health and other common issues that they are facing in their daily life.

Afghanistan launches its first Youth Health Line in Afghanistan on the International Youth Day

11 August 2012

Kabul, 11 August 2012 – The Ministry of Public Health, with the financial and technical support of the United Nations Population Fund and its implementing partner, Afghan Family Guidance Association (AFGA), established a phone line to provide youth friendly health counseling. Starting from today, by calling the number 120, it is now possible to receive accurate youth health information including reproductive health, counseling, and referrals to appropriate services or resources.

The Youth Health Line is reachable by dialing 120 from any network for free. The service is available in Dari and Pashto every day initially from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. The anonymity of the Youth Health Line allows the caller to ask questions that may be difficult to address in a face-to-face context.

“Girls and boys in our society often do not have anyone to turn to for help. However, by calling the Youth Health Line, 120, they can talk to a telephone counselor without being embarrassed or judged, and receive a referral to a youth-friendly clinic where they can get further information about their situation. The Ministry of Public Health is glad to celebrate the International Youth Day 2012 by providing a new and youth-friendly service that is very much in line with this year’s theme: Building a Better World: Partnering with Youth” said H.E. Dr. SurayaDalil, Minister of Public Health.

The Youth Health Line will have two counselors (one male, one female) employed and trained by the Ministry of Public Health. The counselors will follow the Youth Health Line main principles: provide accurate and timely information, provide an opportunity for dialogue, give support to callers by listening to them and counseling them and when necessary provide referral information.

With a simple act of dialing the short code, 120, free of charge, young people in Kabul will be able to know more on issues such as reproductive health and family planning, early marriage and early pregnancies health consequences, communicable diseases and sexually transmitted infections, how sport and nutrition are related to health, substance abuse, and what to do in case of gender based violence.

“Evidence has shown that comprehensive sexual education that is age-appropriate, gender-sensitive and life skills-based can provide young people with the knowledge, skills and efficacy to make informed decisions about their sexual life. When young people are equipped with accurate and relevant information, and access to counseling and Reproductive Health services that are non-judgmental and affordable, they are better able to take advantage of educational and other opportunities that will impact their lifelong well-being, and also avoid unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions, improve their sexual and reproductive health and protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections including HIV” said Dr. Laurent Zessler, UNFPA Representative in Afghanistan.

Comprehensive Sexuality Education

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In Afghanistan most young people have limited access to comprehensive family life education (FLE) which is critical for their development into healthy and productive adults. Comprehensive FLE provides the full range of information, skills and values to enable young people to make informed choices about their health and family life in a rights-based and gender-sensitive framework.

UNFPA works with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Public Health to design and implement FLE. UNFPA has expanded the evidence base for school-based FLE through a review of the national curriculum, with recommendations on inclusion of age appropriate FLE for primary and secondary classes.

In out-of-school settings, UNFPA has expanded the free Youth Health Line and is training youth led networks and sports organizations to provide peer education. During 2010-2014, more than 2,000 FLE peer educators were trained who reached out to more than 20,000 peers in four provinces.

UNFPA – Health Corner

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