Bangladesh has the highest rate of child marriage in Asia, while a huge number of young adults are unable to access sexual and reproductive health services, rights and family planning services, said UNFPA official Abu Sayed Hasan.
Speaking during the Second Bangladesh National Youth Conference on Family Planning (BNYCFP 2017) on Thursday, Sayed, technical officer for family planning at UNFPA, said every hospital and clinic should have a youth-friendly corner to address the needs of the young and adolescent.
The event was organised by International Youth Alliance for Family Planning (IYAFP) and SERAC-Bangladesh in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) Bangladesh, Partners in Population and Development (PPD) and Right Here Right Now Bangladesh.
More than 200 students and young professionals from diverse fields participated in the programme to discuss how to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights and to also have them addressed as basic human rights.
The participants said they would like to see adolescents and young people have equal access to reproductive health services, education and access to informed choices. The youth delegates promised to work for the country’s development in that direction during the closing ceremony.
The conference was inaugurated by Dr Dipu Moni, MP, chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During her speech, she said: “The government has adopted effective and timely policies and programmes focusing on young people’s knowledge development, improving access to youth-friendly reproductive health services. However, it is detrimental that reproductive health education for the youth remains a taboo subject, despite its importance during the crucial stage of development in their lives.”
PPD Executive Director Dr Joe Thomas said despite having a number of catastrophic events, Bangladesh is going strong in achieving a demographic dividend. He said the country was very fortunate to have a very low HIV prevalence compared to many other countries. The policies and programmes must utilise the potential of the youth by providing them with access to a friendly healthcare service, Thomas added.
The two-day conference was also attended by Iori Kato, representative, AI of UNFPA Bangladesh, SERAC-Bangladesh Executive Director and IYAFP Country Coordinator SM Shaikat, Bandhu Executive Director Dr AFM Matiur Rahman, Dr Kallol Chowdhury and model and actor Jannatul Ferdoush Peya.