Two HP+-trained organizations are seeing results from capacity strengthening activities. Building on HP+'s approach of integrating entrepreneurship and youth-friendly health services through empowering youth in rural areas of Mangochi, the National Youth Council of Malawi received a grant from GIZ to implement its project "EYA! Empowering Youth in Agribusiness." The activity, which will be implemented in eight districts in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry, focuses on creating employment opportunities for youth to improve their income and linking labor supply and demand in the agriculture and food sector. Another youth club trained in proposal writing, Ekwaiweni Tafika, was awarded a 36-million-kwacha grant (US$43,200) by the UK-based Zambia-Malawi Partnership. Activities, which began in March 2022, include drilling boreholes and purchasing land to plant trees for commercial use, working with school children and providing them with meals.
The Global Digital Development Forum was held virtually on May 4 and 5, where select HP+ staff joined leaders from around the world to discuss the changing paradigm for implementing development in a digital world. The forum explored three key areas of digital development: climate change response, emerging technologies, and locally created technologies. HP+’s Meryn Robinson presented on “Digital Solutions for Family Planning Policy,” sharing how digital solutions can transform the development and implementation of health policies so they are more efficient, responsive, transparent, and effective. HP+’s Ida Kagone and Ryan Ubuntu Olson led a session alongside TechChange’s Allison Prell, where they shared recent work to build the policy advocacy capacity of rising youth leaders representing 23 countries in francophone West Africa. The session, “Reaching Youth Leaders in West Africa through Innovative Locally Led Approaches to Advance Health Policies,” showcased how they used a virtual platform to inspire and enlighten rising youth leaders to understand and take action on important policies that affect their health and the health of their local communities. Jointly, the two HP+ sessions gathered 167 attendees. Recordings of sessions are available for conference registrants on the GDDF website.
A March 3, 2022, article in the Zodiak, “HP+ Ends 5-Year Journey with Praises,” reports on the project’s achievements and closure in the district of Mangochi, where it provided technical and financial support around implementation of the country’s youth-friendly health services strategy. Support included orienting community groups and developing action plans to improve youth access to and uptake of health services. Later, activities evolved to include entrepreneurship training and supporting youth clubs as they grew, generated resources, secured funding, and formed the first ever youth-led cooperative in the district. As their businesses have grown, the youth clubs have continued to invest a portion of their profits into making youth-friendly health services accessible to their peers. “Since we were trained as a group, now our total assets are valued at over K5 million and, as individuals, we have progressed so well that some of us have built better houses,” said Gift Unyolo, Chairperson for Alinafe Youth Club in Nankumba Traditional Authority. The leader of Nankumba hailed HP+ for its achievements and said, given a chance to talk to the donors, he would lobby for more funding as the project has left a notable impact in the area.
HP+ and Feed the Future’s Agricultural Diversification Project collaborated with government leaders in Malawi’s Mangochi district to support a group of youth clubs to become an official, registered cooperative. Three months after being registered, the Thema Honey Cooperative secured a $56,500 grant from a World Bank financing project, Agricultural Commercialization, to continue to grow their honey production business. HP+ and Feed the Future supported the growth and capacity development of the clubs and the cooperative, which invest a portion of their revenue into youth-friendly health services. HP+ and the Mangochi Business Unit Team supported Thema to develop the grant application and raise the 30 percent of total requested funding as required by the World Bank.
HP+ held an event on November 18, 2021, to mark the launch of family planning activities in Niger’s Maradi and Zinder regions, which have the highest prevalence of child marriage in the country. The activities will strengthen the use of family planning services in the two regions and address critical challenges such as child marriage and low demand for contraceptives among adolescents. The activities complement the health policy work already being done alongside the Ministry of Public Health through HP+’s West Africa regional portfolio. The event was attended by government ministry officials, nongovernmental organization partners, youth organizations, community leaders, and local elected officials. The governor of Zinder thanked HP+ and remarked that the achievement of ambitious national family planning objectives “will require the full participation not only of key actors in the field of family planning but also of all stakeholders.”
On November 22, 2021, Malawi’s Minister of Health, the Honourable Khumbize Chiponda Kandondo, visited Quadria Muslim Association of Malawi (QMAM) in Machinga district to see the role religious leaders play in response to the HIV pandemic. QMAM, a recipient of PEPFAR funds through HP+ grants under the Faith and Community Initiative (FCI), organized an event to showcase the efforts that both Muslim and Christian religious leaders have been making to ensure that men and boys have access to HIV services in the district. These efforts include distribution of HIV oral self-test kits, reporting to respective health centers, and the use of HP+’s Messages of Hope booklets and facilitation manual as well as child protection policy booklets. The lively event featured dances that the minister joined in, music, and plays on HIV testing and adherence to treatment, as well as a sermon on preventing sexual violence against children. In her remarks, the minister praised the FCI program, lauded the role that QMAM, the Machinga District Health Office, sheikhs, and other partners are playing in reaching men and boys, and appreciated the collaboration between Muslims and Christians. Impressed by the event, the minister asked that some of the Muslim volunteers join a World AIDS Day event to showcase their intervention while HP+ supported the Zikiri dance group to travel to the event to perform songs that incorporate Messages of Hope.
In late August 2021, HP+ and partners organized a meeting in Malawi focused on youth, education, gender, and health, which provided a platform for stakeholders—including youth themselves—to strategize on positive youth development, share evidence-based interventions, and propose policy and programmatic recommendations. Youth participants used the meeting as an opportunity to effectively engage officials from various ministries working on youth issues. They suggested innovative and youth-tailored solutions that covered topics such as mental health, sexual and reproductive health and rights, accountability platforms, capacity strengthening, and collaboration among youth and government ministries. In addition, youth participants advocated for greater representation in each sector and ministry, a greater focus on cyberbullying, and stronger mechanisms to curb and report on sexual and gender-based violence. These recommendations will inform the follow-on youth-friendly health services strategy, updating the 2015–2020 strategy.
Youth in Madagascar have provided valuable input during a review of Madagascar’s 2016–2020 Costed Implementation Plan (CIP) for Family Planning and provided insight to be considered for the next CIP. The participatory and multisectoral CIP review, for which HP+ provided technical support, included the perspectives of youth stakeholders as members of the family planning committee. Their insight was particularly valuable as Madagascar’s CIP addresses the unique needs of young people in a country where nearly 60 percent of the population are under the age of 25. The CIP review revealed that the modern contraceptive prevalence rate among young people increased by 4 percentage points from the CIP’s introduction in 2016 to its end in 2020. Furthermore, recommendations from a May 2021 virtual consultation, led by the Youth Advocacy Association as part of the CIP gap analysis, will be factored into the next CIP (2021–2025). Their proposals include improving contraceptive supply chains, continuing to strengthen implementation of the 2018 law on reproductive health and family planning, bolstering government commitment to family planning, and improving service offerings that meet the specific needs of young people. They requested specific strategies targeting youth and recommended greater engagement of youth networks, nongovernmental organizations, and associations in family planning demand creation.
A “how-to” guide on an innovative, community-driven advocacy approach that can be used to facilitate local-level implementation of national policies and strategies has been published by HP+. HP+ used this multisectoral approach to strengthen implementation of Malawi’s national youth-friendly health services strategy, developing and piloting the approach in Mangochi District. The guide is intended to enable policymakers, government institutions, implementing partners, and others to replicate, refine, and tailor the approach used by HP+ to strengthen community-level implementation of national policies and strategies. While the HP+ pilot focused on youth-friendly health services and the guide’s contents are presented in those terms, the approach can easily be applied to support local-level implementation of other national strategies.
In Malawi, HP+ launched an intergenerational mentoring activity to support emerging young leaders to engage village, district, and national stakeholders to deliver on the sexual and reproductive health and rights promises laid out in national policies. Connecting emerging young leaders with more experienced mentors in a structured advocacy mentoring program provides a unique opportunity to support young people to affect the institutions with which they work. In line with positive youth development methodologies, the purpose of such a mentoring program is to (1) provide one-on-one support to build the agency of young people to participate in decision-making processes and (2) cultivate their knowledge, leadership skills, and abilities to meaningfully participate and advocate for their priorities. This guide provides best practices in mentoring learned from the experience in Malawi.
Success stories are emerging from efforts to train Malawi youth in business management and entrepreneurship through HP+ and Palladium’s Feed the Future Agricultural Diversification project. The project is focused in Mangochi District, where several youth clubs have dramatically increased their profits. The Wake UP youth club doubled its revenue after the training, from MWK 400,000 ($ 497), at which level it had stagnated for the past four years, to MWK 800,000 ($994) in 2020. Mlambe Youth Club increased its investment in land for its green maize production from 2019 to 2020 and grew its revenue. The club now makes an average annual gross profit of more than MWK 1 million ($1,242). Through the youth clubs’ Village Savings and Loan programs, individuals have been borrowing start-up funds and launching their own successful businesses, such as selling tomatoes or fish. In addition to investing in expanding their businesses, the clubs also are putting their profits toward constructing youth corners, physical structures where youth can access family planning services and commodities. Other clubs are supporting needy students with school fees and bicycles and motorbikes to help youth from remote areas access youth friendly health services.
HIV services for men and boys are getting a boost in Malawi through the efforts of teen clubs and a church-based support group. With the support of HP+, the Evangelical Association of Malawi is reaching out to teens in Phalombe and Nkhotakota districts with psychosocial counseling, nutritional support, assistance with treatment adherence, and viral load monitoring. Since July 2020, the Faith and Communities Initiative effort has reached 662 men and boys and 82 teen members with nutritional support. The teen clubs have promoted access to early viral load testing among boys living with HIV at Kapiri Health Centre, where 148 members have accessed viral load monitoring services.
In a historic accomplishment, Malawi youth clubs supported by HP+ have banded together to form the first youth-led and youth-centered cooperative in Mangochi District. The cooperative will continue the individual businesses established by the clubs—beekeeping and the sale of honey—and the businesses’ support of local family planning initiatives. Such initiatives include revamping youth corners, buying bicycles and motorbikes to ferry youth to and from facilities, and supporting youth-friendly health services/family planning coordinators to conduct limited outreach. Members also hope to establish a facility separate from the hospital space where they now hold their regular meetings. The Thema Honey Youth Producers and Marketing Cooperative Society is one of only 12 in the district. To establish the cooperative, the individual clubs completed a required training facilitated by a multisectoral government team from central, district, and community levels and with financial and technical assistance provided by HP+. After the training, members applied to the Ministry of Trade and Industry for certification. Once certified, the cooperative will be eligible to access better markets for their honey as well as other government initiatives and opportunities.
After receiving an entrepreneurial training delivered jointly by HP+ and Feed the Future’s Agriculture Diversification Activity, participants from Nankumba Traditional Authority in the Mangochi district of Malawi used the curriculum and their own resources to orient other youth clubs on the topic. This raises the total number of youth clubs conducting social enterprises (such as bee keeping, maize farming, and goat farming) from the initial 15 clubs, two years ago when the training was first provided, to 29. Since a proportion of the profits from these businesses are invested in youth-friendly health services (YFHS), an increase in the number of clubs translates to an increase in YFHS investments. The vision of these clubs is to construct a youth resource center in their community through collective contributions, beyond the other investments currently being made. The youth resource center will serve as a separate space where FP information and some services can be provided, as the YFHS facility where youth currently access services is located within the local hospital and is quite small.
Malawi is developing guidelines on how to sustain youth-friendly health services (YFHS) as evidence shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically decreased the use of such care. The use of YFHS declined by approximately one-third in April/May of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, according to two 2020 assessments on COVID-19 and YFHS. In response, HP+ Malawi is working with government and other stakeholders to develop National Guidelines for Sustaining Provision of Youth-Friendly Health Services amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic. The guidelines, which are being developed by a multisectoral group of stakeholders, are intended for both governmental and nongovernmental entities that offer health information and services to young people. They are a framework to hold implementers accountable for offering services during the pandemic as well as a way to empower communities and youth themselves to better understand their right to access health services despite COVID-19-related restrictions or access barriers. The government of Malawi is further discussing how to expand the scope of the guidelines to address public health emergencies beyond COVID-19.
HP+ and Feed the Future conducted a gender-focused leadership training for 15 youth leaders under age 30 from youth-led organizations in Malawi. The training used the Gender Action Learning System methodology, which empowers communities to articulate needs, envision change, and identify gender-equitable initiatives. Suited to communities with limited literacy and numeracy skills, it communicates abstract concepts such as gender sensitivity and isolates the roots of social norms. HP+ adapted the methodology to include positive youth development domains and policy. Participants demonstrate leadership growth by replicating the training and spearheading the development agenda of their organizations, communities, and districts. Participants are expected to implement what they learned in their communities. There are already results from the training. One youth leader secured an internship with the training partner and another facilitated a similar training in her community less than two weeks later. HP+, Feed the Future, and MERAMO Consulting will continue to monitor and offer technical support to the youth leaders as they cascade the methodology within their communities.
With HP+ technical support, Madagascar’s Ministry of Public Health recently validated the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health and Nutrition Investment Case for the Global Financing Facility. The investment case outlines priorities for interventions and regions in addressing the country’s RMNCAH-N objectives and health system improvements. HP+ was the lead technical partner, in collaboration with UNICEF, the United Nations Population Fund, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization, supporting the ministry in the development of the investment case. The process offered the opportunity to improve the alignment of donor financing with government priorities and objectives. It also focused on targeting limited government resources on high-impact practices and healthcare access for the country’s most vulnerable populations. HP+ will continue to provide technical assistance to build the ministry’s capacity to monitor the implementation of the investment case at national, regional, and district levels. The investment case aims to reduce the total fertility rate—the average number of births a woman has over a typical lifetime—from 4.6 to 4.2 and aims to reduce the adolescent fertility rate from 151 to less than 130 births per 1,000 women. The five-year plan would reach 17 out of 22 prioritized regions, covering 19.1 million people (78 percent of the population) and avert more than 9,000 neonatal deaths, approximately 3,000 maternal deaths, and nearly 40,000 deaths of children under five years of age.
A Malawi youth is using skills acquired at a recent USAID-funded training to advocate for youth-friendly health services (YFHS) in his home district of Mwanza. He is one of 15 Malawi youth leaders HP+ trained in health budget advocacy with the goal of increasing young people’s engagement in health budget processes. After the training in November, the youth developed an advocacy action plan focused on increased budget allocations for YFHS and presented it to representatives of the Mwanza CSO Network in December. The CSO Network pledged its support, committing to engage a member of Parliament as a strategic partner to strengthen the advocacy community in Mwanza. HP+ will be monitoring the implementation of this action plan for the next nine months.
HEP+ Guatemala and one of its long-standing civil society partners are among the co-authors on a recent article on the importance of encouraging partnerships during challenging times such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper draws on a 12-country study series on multisectoral collaboration for health and sustainable development in the context of the health and rights of women, children, and adolescents to incorporate sectoral analysis into multisectoral research methods, develop a core set of research questions, and identify shared indicators of success and failure across sectors. The article, “Specific Considerations for “Research on the Effectiveness of Multisectoral Collaboration: Methods and Lessons from 12 Country Case Studies,” appeared in BMC Globalization and Health. Among its co-authors are Susana Palma from HEP+ and Silvia Xinico from HEP+ the partner National Alliance of Indigenous Women’s Organizations for Reproductive Health.
A recently drafted law against gender-based violence was the focus of Mali’s “16 Days of Activism” on GBV in November. HP+ Mali provided technical and financial support in the Koulikoro Region to two key organizations—Coordination of Women's Associations and Organizations and Malian Association for the Well-being of Women and Children. Two separate events to advocate for the adoption of law against GBV produced pledges to abandon the practice of female genital mutilation and commitments from the governor of Koulikoro, the mayor of Kati, and local decision makers to support and advocate for the adoption of the law. Youth from the NGO TAGNE (an organization working for the abandonment of GBV) in Kati challenged decisionmakers through a performance of Poetry Slam, requesting they accelerate government actions to support abandonment of GBV in Mali. Koulikoro is the second of seven regions with 15 percent of women reporting having experienced acts of sexual violence at some point in their life.
In Malawi, youth clubs are thriving, enabling young people to continue to access youth-friendly health services (YFHS) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 45 youth clubs in Mangochi, trained by HP+ and the USAID AgDiv Project in June 2019 on enterprise and entrepreneurship, have been mentored by an HP+-trained multisectoral ministry team and youth champion during the pandemic. They have invested approximately MWK 459,000 (US$611) in their respective centers, supporting the provision of YFHS and information on COVID-19 to youth throughout the region.
In Malawi’s Mangochi district, youth clubs are supporting the construction of a standalone building to house youth-friendly health services at Nankumba Health Center. Following a training on small-scale businesses conducted by HP+ and Ag Div in June 2019 and subsequent months of advocacy efforts, the youth clubs secured financial support from the community amounting to MWK 400,000 (approximately US$540) as well as commitments from local leaders to support the initiative. By building this separate facility—expected to serve up to 50 individuals by the end of 2021—the youth aim to provide a safe, private space for their local peers to access health services.
Health Policy Plus (HP+) marked World Contraception Day this year with a focus on the positive, a welcome distraction from the COVID-19 pandemic, by asking our colleagues and partners, “what about contraception puts a smile on your face?” With a reflection by family planning and reproductive health lead, Jay Gribble, and a photo collage featuring messages from around the world, HP+ demonstrates many reasons to smile as voluntary contraception and method choice continue to improves the lives of women and men, their families, and communities.
With HP+ support, youth journalists in several districts in Malawi air weekly programs on community radio about topical health issues. Recently, Nkhotakota Radio youth reporters noticed that the number of pregnant adolescent girls getting HIV tests at the local district hospital had dropped significantly. In early June, the station aired a radio program urging pregnant teens to get tested for HIV. The District Health Office reported that in the two weeks following the broadcast, testing was higher than ever—about 40 pregnant girls had visited the facility to be tested. Said Nkhotakota District Hospital Nurse Chimwemwe Nyasulu, “This is what community radio is supposed to do.”
HP+ is supporting district-level youth-friendly health services (YFHS) reporting performance in Malawi by analyzing monthly District Health Information System 2 reports and providing technical support to health management information system officers and YFHS coordinators to improve timely and complete reporting. The district with the highest performance each quarter receives recognition; districts share best practices and lessons learned via a WhatsApp group. As a result of this emphasis on data quality and reporting, performance has steadily improved over time. Accurate and timely information about service utilization allows decision-makers at various levels to tailor programs and allocate resources to more effectively serve youth beneficiaries across Malawi.
In Malawi, district youth-friendly health services (YFHS) coordinators are using performance data to analyze YFHS uptake nationwide, sharing best practices and challenges encountered to improve program decision-making across all levels of the health system. Since 2018, HP+ has supported the Ministry of Health’s Central Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate to analyze district performance in reporting YFHS uptake and share these results with district-level coordinators via WhatsApp. As a result, the overall national reporting performance of the YFHS program has improved from 13 percent in 2018 to 72 percent as of March 2020, demonstrating strengthened capacity to submit complete, timely data critical to supporting informed decision-making.
A new blog by HP+’s Laura Brazee—Opening Doors: Mentoring for Effective Advocacy—was published by Knowledge SUCCESS. The blog shares insights from an intergenerational mentoring program for youth in Malawi. It demonstrates how engagement with mentors supports emerging young leaders to engage village, district, and national stakeholders to deliver on promises related to youth-friendly health services (YFHS) and strengthens advocacy for policies to end early marriage. Mentees were supported to build partnerships with youth networks and organizations to advance their advocacy work and connect to new stakeholders. View more Malawi-specific materials.
Two civil society networks supported by HEP+ in Guatemala—Young Artists for Social Justice (JAxJS) and the Sexual and Reproductive Health Watchdog’s Youth Branch (OSAR Youth)—are disseminating key messages to contain the spread of COVID-19 through social media and radio. Local members of JAxJS have produced songs and poetry on preventing contagion, which target young Guatemalans, that receive an average of 7,000 daily views. OSAR Youth has disseminated key messages on the importance of continuing to provide reproductive health services and prevent teenage pregnancies. These civil society partners continue their advocacy efforts amidst the pandemic to maintain FP/RH, human rights, and policy development for disenfranchised populations on the government's policy agenda.
In March, following an HP+ policy advocacy training and ongoing mentorship, two student youth advocates at Malawi’s University of Livingstonia established a Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) club on campus to provide information and referrals for students seeking to access contraceptives, counseling, HIV testing, and information on SRHR. The advocates are now seeking to establish a youth-friendly health services space at the university where students can access information, services, and referrals to the closest hospital and mobile clinic. There are currently 700 students attending Livingstonia University and 64 have expressed interest in joining the SRHR network.
In Malawi, youth trained in policy communication have successfully advocated for policy changes at the district level. The training, facilitated by HP+ in coordination with partner Population Reference Bureau (PRB) in July 2019, resulted in the creation of policy advocacy plans by youth advocates. Recent follow-up by PRB revealed multiple successes in the implementation of these plans, including implementation of a differentiated care model for antiretroviral therapy service delivery, expanded clinic hours to target youth, and inclusion of youth leaders in local decision-making committees and district structures. These policy changes improve youth access to health services and family planning information, contributing to improved health outcomes across Malawi.
In Mali, three members of the Association of Malian Municipalities (AMM) are independently facilitating advocacy meetings to mobilize local financing for community health workers (CHWs), following a HP+ training in AFP SMART methodology. The AMM has secured funding from the Aga Khan Foundation to advocate for communes to assume financial responsibility over their CHWs, and two municipalities have signed service contracts with 210 CHWs to ensure stipend support. Increasing domestic financing for CHWs will increase access to services for women and children, particularly those living more than 5 km from a health facility.
FDH Bank of Malawi was awarded the first-ever Positive Youth Development Award at the annual Marketing Excellence Awards by Malawi’s only association of professional marketers. The award, recognizing the bank for excellence in developmental and social services targeting young people ages 10-35, was recently introduced as a new award by Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM Malawi). The award aims at mobilizing the private sector to support implementation of the country’s National Youth Friendly Health Services Strategy in order to improve youth empowerment and access to health services through strengthened public-private partnerships. At the awarding ceremony, private sector attendees expressed enthusiasm about the introduction of the youth award category, which is expected to stimulate the private sector to invest more in youth related interventions as the companies compete to win in coming years. This all comes as a result of HP+ support to the Ministry of Health to prioritize and promote youth friendly health services.
HP+ recently launched Growing Together: Multisectoral Investments in Malawi’s Youth, an ENGAGE multimedia presentation that describes how investments in young people’s health, education, employment opportunities, and participation in governance can create a window of opportunity for accelerated economic development. The presentation was developed with the guidance of a multidisciplinary taskforce chaired by Malawi’s Ministry of Health and included youth leaders and representatives from government and civil society. The presentation was utilized by UNFPA to launch their event “Road to Nairobi for the ICPD” on World Population Day 2019, and stakeholders across sectors will continue to use the resource in their call for increased cross-sectoral investments in Malawi’s young people.
The Economic Association of Malawi (ECAMA), an independent association of economists, committed in early November 2019, to the management of population growth and investments in youth and articulated the importance of policies that support job creation as key in harnessing Malawi’s demographic dividend. At their annual meeting, ECAMA members published a resolution detailing 10 steps that will improve human development. Health Policy Plus provided evidence from RAPID to support the Ministry of Health and Population’s planning team make a case for the integration of population in planning. HP+ technical advisor of family planning, Julius Chingwalu participated as a discussant on the population and development panel.
Malawi's population is one of the fastest-growing in Africa, placing great strain on its health system, environment, and economy—hindering the country's ability to meet its development goals. To address unmet need for family planning services and the needs of adolescent girls and young women at all levels, HP+ is coordinating across multiple sectors including engaging traditional and religious leaders and communities. Christian Connections for International Health (CCIH) published a story this week about a family in Malawi helped by the Evangelical Association of Malawi, under an HP+ supported activity. The account of a family receiving marriage and birth-spacing counseling after a family tragedy, demonstrates how engagement with community leaders on family planning messaging helped on family mend and achieve financial security.
Developing Radio Partners (DRP), has leveraged its HP+ work with PRB in Malawi to garner more funding that is significantly expanding the listening audience for a community radio project broadcasting messages about youth-friendly health services. With HP+ support, DRP has trained and mentored teams of teenagers over the past two years to produce weekly programs that are aired by community radio stations in three districts in Central and Southern Malawi. Last year, it added two more stations, raising the project’s audience to more than 3 million. Building on the success, DRP has received $30,000 from the Conservation, Food & Health Foundation, based in Boston, to fund similar activities at two more stations through September 2019. Mzati Radio in Mulanje in southern Malawi and the Voice of Livingstonia in Mzuzu in the north were chosen in part because their listening areas have high rates of HIV, and early marriage is prevalent in Mzuzu. DRP is working with teams at the two new stations to produce weekly programs. This includes instruction on technical production as well as information about the National Youth-Friendly Health Services Strategy so the young journalists can accurately spread word via their radio programs to their peers about the services they are entitled to receive.
The Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman (PDH) in Guatemala announced a commitment to expand its strategic alliance with ALIANMISAR, a local civil society organization, to assume the responsibility of monitoring the educational quality in the five education departments prioritized USAID and expand the program to schools in all 22 departments of the country starting on February 1, 2019. This commitment is a direct result of HP+’s efforts to build capacity within civil society networks and track progress on the program’s influence on the educational system; in the years since the program’s monitoring began in 2013, these networks have leveraged over US$3.8 million to improve 138 schools. Based on these positive responses to these results, the PDH and ALIANMISAR designed six questionnaires aimed at students, parents, teachers, and directors to collect demographic and institution-specific data that will provide a baseline for future educational interventions in the region. Additionally, the PDH has developed an online app to track and review the answers provided in these questionnaires, highlighting the visibility and accessibility of the data. The strategic alliance marks an important milestone for HP+’s efforts to achieve sustainable results that will have lasting effects in Guatemala as the PDH will accompany civil society networks to advocate for positive changes in the quality of educational services and will actively monitor future cases of human rights violations reported by students and educators.
A national youth conference on HIV/AIDS and sexual reproductive health and rights, organized by the National Youth Council of Malawi (NYCOM) and supported by the Global Fund, was held June 28, 2018, in Lilongwe. The conference provided a venue for youth, government, and civil society leaders to exchange best practices and recommendations in sexual and reproductive health, HIV, and other issues that impact youth under the theme is “Reflect and Act for Improved Youth Participation and Leadership.” USAID through the Health Policy Plus (HP+), supported the participation of five youth champions and five district Youth Friendly Health Services coordinators and held capacity building and leadership strengthening sessions for the youth leaders. As a result of advocacy led by youth at the conference, the U.S. Embassy revised its criteria for youth organization eligibility for PEPFAR’s Small Grants Program and NYCOM announced on July 1, 2018, its new board of directors, which until then had several vacancies in critical leadership positions.
Burkina Faso's reproductive health law has been strengthened with the Minister of Health's approval of new regulatory language that emphasizes the rights of users, including new text that states, "People of reproductive age or adolescents can freely use family planning without any barrier or constraints related to sex, religion, [or] marital status." The reproductive health law, originally passed in 2005 with support from USAID-funded health policy projects in collaboration with the National Assembly, had previously lacked enforceability. The new language, developed in collaboration with HP+, the West Africa Health Organization Network of Champions, and AgirPF, extends rights to reproductive health and family planning to all persons of childbearing age, including adolescents.
HP+ modelling experts provided technical guidance for a new publication by UNICEF called Generation 2030. The report makes a case for investment in children and young people to increase per capita income and improve economic prospects. Scott Moreland and Sayaka Koseki provided guidance to the authors who used DemDiv to run simulations for multiple African countries. According to the population projections in the report, by 2050, the continent will account for 42 percent of all global births and almost 40 per cent of all children under 18. DemDiv continues to be a popular tool being used by a range of players. Scott Moreland is currently reviewing a manuscript on a Mali application for a journal and is preparing a paper for Afrique Contemporaine, a publication of AFD, based on presentations he made last spring in Paris and recently in Cape Town at 2017 International Population Conference.
Participants in the HP+ Women Leadership activity in Pakistan successfully developed and advocated to the Plan Implementation Unit (PIU) of the Population Welfare Department (PWD) for the inclusion of youth-specific standards in the National Manual on Family Planning Standards & Guidelines. As a result, the manual now has a section on youth-friendly family planning services, which includes a youth-friendly facility description and checklist for all district level outlets where family planning services are being provided. For the first time, district health facilities will have guidance to ensure youth find services tailored to their needs. Using results from the RAPID model , the HP+ Pakistan team developed a video showing the effects of population growth on agriculture, water, education and health, and illustrated the number of unintended pregnancies and maternal and child deaths that will be averted if the contraceptive prevalence rate goal in the Costed Implementation Plan is met. The Plan Implementation unit showed the video during a high-level policy forum on August 11th.
With the support of the USAID-funded HP+ Guatemala (HEP+) and the successful advocacy of local networks since 2015, the Congress of Guatemala on August 17, 2017, approved a revision to the civil code to prohibit the marriage of minors, with no exceptions. A previous 2015 law established 18 years as the legal age of marriage, but judges could rule on exceptions, leading to marriage for 4,743 minors (13 and 17 years old) between 2015 and 2016. The revised civil code eliminates the loophole. Local organizations, including the National Alliance of Indigenous Women's Organizations for Reproductive Health (ALIANMISAR) and the National Men's Network (la Red Nacional de Hombres), with support from HEP+, used multi-faceted advocacy strategies to bring an end to child marriage. The elimination of the exception in the civil code means a brighter future for girls in Guatemala as it breaks the vicious cycle of "children raising children." The advocacy groups working closely with HEP+ continue to conduct outreach to local judges to monitor enforcement. Check our news article for links to local coverage.
With the support of the USAID-funded HP+ Guatemala (HEP+) and the successful advocacy of local networks, the Congress of Guatemala on August 17th approved a revision to the civil code to prohibit the marriage of minors, with no exceptions. A previous 2015 law established 18 years as the legal age of marriage, but judges could rule on exceptions, leading to marriage for 4,743 minors (13 and 17 years old) between 2015 and 2016. The revised civil code eliminates the loophole. Local organizations National Alliance of Organizations for Reproductive Health of Indigenous Women of Guatemala (ALIANMISAR) and the National Network of Men (la Red Nacional de Hombres), with support from HEP+, used multi-faceted advocacy strategies to bring an end to child marriage. The elimination of the exception in the civil code means a brighter future for girls in Guatemala as it breaks the vicious cycle of “children raising children.” The advocacy groups will continue to conduct outreach to local judges to monitor enforcement.
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Participants in the USAID-funded Health Policy Plus (HP+) project’s Women's Leadership initiative in Pakistan have had tremendous success, directly contributing to policy and other efforts aimed at expanding outreach and access to family planning services for youth. Collectively, the women successfully advocated for the inclusion of youth-specific indicators to monitor the country's costed implementation plan and developed youth-specific guidelines for Pakistan's Manual of Standards for Family Planning Services. They provided recommendations to Sindh province's FP2020 working group and to the government—the latter of which ensured the funding and operationalizing of critical youth-friendly activities.
These wins come on the heels of three HP+ Women's Leadership for Family Planning workshops focused on increasing the women's confidence, capacity, and connections to achieve health policy and governance outcomes. HP+ initiated the Women's Leadership program in Pakistan late last year. The last of the three workshops was held in April.
Now, HP+ is continuing to support the women in their advocacy efforts and tracking their successes in our unfolding story on their progress.
USAID’s HP+ AOR team visited Malawi in August, meeting with Youth Net and Counseling (YONECO), a local NGO providing a range of HIV-related services for children, youth, and women. While at the YONECO Chinamwali drop-in center, HP+ and USAID staff members were able to see how the 2015–2010 Youth Friendly Health Services (YFHS) Strategy has been implemented since its development and launch in 2015. The National YFHS Strategy was developed with USAID support under the Health Policy Project, and advocates for investments in youth-friendly health services that will ultimately allow Malawi realize a demographic transition for accelerated economic growth. The strategy will ensure that young people complete their education, delay their sexual debut, make informed choices on their sexuality, and transition into healthy young adults as represented in the matrix; and it will reduce the number of children born and minimize HIV transmission.