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Room for improvement in sexual health counselling

A study that SolidarMed conducted in the Ulanga district shows that adolescents still face barriers when they seek information about sexual and reproductive health.

When young people want to find out about sexual and reproductive health, they face barriers. This is shown by a study conducted by SolidarMed in the district of Ulanga. SolidarMed sent youth volunteers to seven healthcare institutions to ask for free advice under false names on condom use, sexually-transmitted infections and family planning. The mystery clients then shared their experiences with the research group, which in turn analysed the findings.

Thanks to age-appropriate advice, young people should gain self-confidence and be able to exercise their right to sexual and reproductive health.

It was encouraging to see that all six young men and women, who had previously been trained by SolidarMed, felt they were taken seriously nearly all the time and only experienced negative remarks very rarely. They did, however, describe some shortcomings in the type and quality of the counselling. Besides a lack of respect for the adolescents’ privacy, incorrect and prejudiced information from healthcare professionals was particularly concerning. For example, some adolescents were categorically advised against using the pill or coil, without consideration of their individual situations. Others were even cut off from asking questions, as shown by the following quote from a male mystery client: “The healthcare assistant said he would have given me more information if my girlfriend had been there but without her he wouldn’t explain any more as it didn't concern me.” Brochures with further information were often lacking and the use of condoms was often only explained verbally rather than in a hands-on way using models.

Not all mystery clients received the brochures co-produced by SolidarMed. There is room for improvement here.

SolidarMed is using the results of the study to develop counselling services on sexual health. Peer educators are a key part of this.

In Tanzania, SolidarMed is committed to ensuring that all young people have access to age-appropriate counselling services on sexual health.

The brochures support educational work in the field of sexual and reproductive health.

Improved counseling services are intended to safeguard rights and reduce or prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually communicable diseases.

Expand counseling services and protect rights

SolidarMed is using these insights to systematically improve and develop sexual and reproductive health counselling services for adolescents in Ulanga, in collaboration with the organisation Enfants du Monde. Because if we want to allow adolescents to exercise their right to sexual and reproductive health and prevent unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, we need quality counselling services that are tailored to young people.

Learn more about the project

SolidarMed improves the health of young people through education and the elimination of barriers in the healthcare system.