Pact signed to launch sexual/reproductive health pilot for youths

Stabroek News
March 24, 2000

The Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA) yesterday resolved to provide its fullest support for the Adolescents and Youths Sexual and Reproductive Health (AYSRH) pilot project in Guyana, for which an agreement was signed between the Government of Guyana and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Executive Director of the UNFPA, Dr Nafis Sadik, currently on a two-day visit to Guyana, said at the GRPA's Quamina Street office yesterday, that ProjectSOON, as it is called, was much needed especially in the light of the increase in teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. According to Dr Sadik, these issues had to be addressed in many ways.

Dr Sadik also conferred UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador status on the GRPA. And the GRPA passed a resolution which pledged support to the UNFPA.

An agreement for the implementation of ProjectSOON in four areas in Guyana was signed between the Government of Guyana and the UNFPA yesterday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Clement Rohee, and Minister of Health, Dr Henry Jeffrey, signed on behalf of the government, while Dr Sadik signed on behalf of the UNFPA.

The purpose of the project is to "empower adolescents and youth in the exercise of their sexual and reproductive rights through the development and provision of accessible gender-sensitive, youth friendly AYSRH care services that enable them to lead healthy, productive and satisfying sexual and reproductive lives."

Expected results of the project which targets adolescents and youngsters between the ages of ten to 24 years old is "to carry out a successful youth-centred, youth-friendly integrated programme of AYSRH promotion and risk prevention for adolescents/youths with a multi-sectoral approach and full participation of the youths of the selected communities in every aspect of the project, from its design to its monitoring evaluation.

The four areas chosen are Port Mourant; St Cuthbert's Mission; Victory Valley, Linden; and Beterverwagting, East Coast Demerara. The selection of the sites was based on ethnic diversity and comprises the major population groupings in Guyana.

According to information provided by the AYSRH Advocacy Unit, the adolescent/youth segment is an under-served population characterised by extremely poor living conditions, high rates of school drop-outs, increased substance use and abuse, violence and unemployment which contribute to a sense of hopelessness. Guyana's AYSRH programme would evolve from "package care", developed by the government in which sexual reproductive health information, education, communication and service delivery activities would be stated and delivered at first to the youths and adolescents of the four pilot sites over a three-year period.

It is also expected that at the end of the three-year period, the lessons learned from the AYSRH pilot would inform a national policy and programme of care.

During her visit to the GRPA yesterday, Dr Sadik said she was looking forward to the implementation of the project and urged that the local organisation look towards the United Nations Development Programme in Guyana for technical assistance.

Among those present at the GRPA ceremony were Head of the Caribbean UNFPA office, Dr Oyebade Ajayi and local national coordinator Dr Wendy Rudder.