August 13, 2015

Keeping Our Youth Healthy and Happy With Unala

Written by Erin Cook

For decades Indonesia was considered a pioneer in family planning and reproductive health. Large-scale initiatives funded by the government and supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) assisted women and families managing their health long before a worldwide movement was established in the 1990s.

But the targeting of youth sexual and reproductive health has always fallen short. Each year around 1.7 million women under the age of 24 give birth — and almost half of those are teenagers. Youth pregnancies can put both mother and child at risk, forcing many girls and young women prematurely out of education.

It is in the tradition of innovation that UNFPA has established Unala — reproductive health clinics targeting youth clients — using a development framework known as social franchising. The clinics aim to empower clients and use health as a tool to guarantee job opportunities and education.

Unala was first developed in Indonesia in 2012, says Dr. Margaretha Sitanggang, the UNFPA Indonesia national program officer for youth and adolescent sexual and reproductive health, before being formally launched mid-2014. With the pilot program currently underway in Yogyakarta, an area chosen for it’s high concentration of teenagers and university students, the success has been immediate.

The program has already upgraded its seven clinics across five districts of the city and now boasts nine doctors attending a growing number of clients.

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