|The Malaysian NGO Coordinating Committee for Reproductive Health (MNCCRH) which FFPAM served as its Secretariat, believes that the sexual and reproductive health [SRH] of young people needs to be approached in a positive and holistic way, based on the needs of young people, most importantly, their participation and involvement; and within the framework of our national policies and socio-cultural context.
Thus in August 2002, the MNCCRH organized a National Youth Seminar with the main aim of providing young people the opportunity to contribute their ideas, experiences and “voices” in drafting and developing the Malaysian National Youth Agenda for SRH. The Agenda centred on three thematic issues:
The Rights of Young People
The Agenda recognized that while young people are committed to be active partners with all agencies that believe in youth power, the Malaysian government, relevant ministries and NGOs must initiate, improve and commit themselves as well to increase access to youth-friendly healthcare services for young Malaysians from a gender and rights-based perspective. Youth, parents, teachers and all relevant parties in society must recognize and be aware of the rights, roles and responsibilities of youth and their contribution to society and the development of the nation.
Young people can be the most effective advocates for change if they are recruited at the onset of any policy and programme planning. Youth should be actively involved in the planning, implementation and evaluation of development activities that have a direct impact on their daily lives. This is especially important with respect to information, education and communication activities and services concerning adolescents SRH. Emphasis should be geared towards structuring a relevant, comprehensive and youth-friendly SRH education that can be taught in and out of school. SRH programmes should be comprehensive and involving inter-ministerial collaboration that caters to the SRH needs and issues of the youth.
Youth-Friendly Policies, Programmes & Services
Young people have different SRH needs and specific approaches are required to address these needs, including those of the marginalized youth. The lack of clear-cut effective policies and programmes and the failure to involve young people in the youth-specific activities remain barriers to the promotion of adolescents SRH programmes. The National Youth Agenda recognizes that young people need the space and opportunities for their greater involvement and participation at all levels of SRH programmes to enable the integration of youth-friendliness characteristics.
At the Seminar, young participants and other stakeholders examined and shared facts about the unmet needs of young people, major areas of concern and the various strategies currently undertaken to improve SRH outcomes and life options for young people. To address these concerns, seven broad strategies were identified that encapsulates the recommended actions of the National Youth Seminar and seized the young people’s commitment to be partners in the fulfillment of the National Youth Agenda. The Agenda basically calls for introduction of youth-friendly education on SRH, improved communication channels, mainstreaming of youth-related policies in all ministries, involvement and participation of young people at all levels of SRH programmes, increase access to youth-friendly healthcare services and the recognition of the rights of youth.