News

Youth and health staff going the extra mile to reduce unplanned pregnancies and STIs

9 December 2015

"My job is to be accountable. The purpose of my job is to contribute to the development of rural Myanmar. This accountability applies very much to youth initiatives," a health manager of a Youth Information Centre (YIC) in Northern Shan explains. Her passion for her work with youth has resulted in a decrease in unplanned pregnancies and STIs in the area. She explains how important it is to go that extra mile; quite literally.

Out of 98 villages under her responsibility, 21 are defined as hard-to-reach areas. Youth from these areas are not always able to visit her facility and are especially vulnerable because of their limited access to quality information and services. The YIC’s preventive youth initiatives are important to prevent unplanned pregnancy and unsafe abortions, STIs and HIV as well as abuse of drugs and alcohol.

Youth in Hsipaw, Shan State, sing at the Youth Information Corners (YIC).

After decades of isolation, an increased emphasis on accountability is creating positive change for these youth in Myanmar. Since 2004, UNFPA has supported rural youth through the establishment of Youth Information Corners (YICs). The assessment of these YICs shows how important the understanding of accountability is for the results-based management of the YICs and the impact their activities are having on the development of Myanmar. In Northern Shan State, the rural health staff managing the YIC demonstrated how the sustainability of YICs in rural areas of Myanmar are greatly influenced by the level of motivation of the head of the health facility in which the YIC is located.

Key to the success of the YIC manager in preventing unplanned pregnancies, STIs and other preventable sexual and reproductive health issues, is her strong cooperation with UNFPA trained youth volunteers from the YIC, as well as her and youth’s commitment to go that extra mile. Singing their own composed YIC song, some of the youth wearing YIC longyis expressed how happy they are to be supported by a dedicated Health Assistant, yet it is challenging to work in a sustainable way. Many young people are working in agriculture, away from home from May to December each year, with limited access to information and services; this makes them vulnerable. The YIC youth invest a lot of time in preventive outreach activities and peer education sessions in the few months when young people are available. This helps youth to be prepared to cope with challenges they face in the period when they have limited or no access to information and services.