Kazakhstan: Youth-Friendly Health Centre opens in Almaty

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ALMATY, Kazakhstan (TCA) — Adolescents and young people, doctors, policy-makers and other partners gathered together on July 11 to open a Youth-Friendly Health Centre in Almaty – a resource hub providing information and services tailored for youth on how to develop life skills and safely transition from adolescence to adulthood, the Kazakhstan Country Office of the United Nations Population Fund said.

The event was organized by the Kazakh Ministry of Health, Akimat (administration) of Almaty and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The Centre is part of the Ministry of Health’s efforts to empower young people with quality information and services. UNFPA provided training and other types of support including by bringing best practices from other countries as well as in-kind contributions to the Centre.

The Centre offers services of experts who have been specially trained to interact with youth. Adolescent gynaecologist, andologist, psychologist, social worker and other experts are available to provide necessary information and services.

“When empowered and given the right opportunities, young people are effective drivers of change. How well they navigate adolescence will determine not only the course of their own lives, but that of their communities and society at large,” said UNFPA Representative for Kazakhstan and Country Director for Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan Giulia Vallese. “Realizing the full potential of youth without investing in their health is unimaginable. The Youth-Friendly Health Centre will be a facility where girls and boys can find answers to questions concerning their physical, emotional, psychological development and life-skills, such as ways to build confidence, become an inspiring leader and many other important skills.”

A recent survey shows that around a third of adolescents aged 15-19 in Kazakhstan are sexually active, and the vast majority — 91% — of the surveyed sexually active adolescents are not sufficiently aware of HIV and AIDS. Furthermore, the number of teenage pregnancies remains unacceptably high in comparison with other OECD countries while the unmet need for contraception remains high.

“When you are a teenager, you may be exposed to many risks. Peer pressure, bullying, risky behaviour, including risky sexual behaviours and more. It is important to have the correct information, to learn to say ‘no’ and resist peer pressure but most importantly to have the choice and power to make decisions that will be fundamental for your future lives. By visiting this Centre and participating in its activities we can empower youth to make healthy choices in areas that concern their lives – the Astana Declaration on Investing in Youth: Leaving No One Behind enumerates it all,” said Y-PEER member Aiym Olzhabay.

Sergey Kwan

TCA