Harriet, 18, from Yumbe, Uganda is the fifth child in a family of seven (four girls and three boys). She is the only sister in school, the rest having dropped out due to teenage pregnancies. While she is sexually active with her boyfriend, Harriet uses family planning to avoid an unplanned pregnancy. She learnt about family planning while attending a health education session facilitated by the WISH Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) programme. The session was held at the Bolomoni HCIII youth-friendly space, where a service provider provided her with information on different contraceptive methods and after extensive counseling, she chose the intra-uterine device (IUD).
Content with the youth-friendly information and services she received at the health center, Harriet is today a family planning advocate in her community, especially among fellow young girls. She often accompanies them to health facilities for ASRH information and contraceptive services. Harriet is a youth ambassador and a trusted connector to the health facilities for fellow adolescents. She uses resources from the ‘Youth Contraception Design Sprint’ to guide her work. The Youth Contraception Design sprint is aimed at increasing uptake of family planning (FP) services to clients under age 20 in Uganda (Lamwo and Bidibidi) and South Sudan (Aweil and Bentiu).
Other activities under the WISH ASRH programme have included capacity building for health care workers, values clarification and attitude transformation on youth contraception. This has resulted in improvements in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour related to family planning service provision by staff. They now find it easier to communicate with adolescents and young people on issues of sexual reproductive health, unlike before.
The use of peers, such as Harriet, to advocate for services has enhanced service delivery since they are more influential and trustworthy among their agemates. Providing accurate information on sexual reproductive health is critical as it allows one to make informed decisions in their chose of a suitable family planning method.
Adolescents who have received contraception are now helping to dispel myths and misconceptions about family planning, particularly long-acting reversible methods (LARCs) by communicating about the benefits. They are also instrumental in accompanying their fellow youth to health facilities for other family planning methods. The WISH programme has noted that a significant number of young people who were not initially interested in contraception or discussing this with health care workers are now comfortably going to health facilities and youth friendly services points/spaces to ask about contraception and others to use it.