Lets talk about sexual and reproductive health.

12 October 2015

UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador, Her Majesty Queen Mother Sangay Choden Wangchuk: "I have come here today to reinforce your need to remain safe and healthy. I am very concern that problems like teenage pregnancy, HIV, substance abuse and violence still continues to affect lives of young people in our country. The statistics are not only alarming but very painful and saddening because loss of precious life could have been prevented".

Coinciding with the world suicide prevention day on 10th September 2015, UNFPA Goodwill ambassador initiated interactive session with students from middle and high schools on sexual and reproductive health, mental health including suicide, substance abuse particularly alcohol and gender based violence including sexual violence facilitated by technical group member represented from Ministry of health, education, RENEW (NGO) and UNFPA.

Bhutan has more than 56% of its population below 25 years and adolescents constituted 71% of the total young people (NHS 2012). Adolescent fertility rate is 59 and teenage pregnancy rate stands at 10%. Almost 22% of adolescent male and 10% of adolescent female are already sexually active and only 2% of them reported using condom during their last sexual intercourse (Monograph NSB 2015). The comprehensive knowledge on HIV/AIDs transmission is only 73% among adolescent and 76% among young people. Majority of young people described sex as fun and pleasure and 30% perceived influence of media and modern culture and 39% on poor knowledge on responsible sex as reasons for young people engaging in early sexual intercourse. Among school children, 56% did not know that a girl could get pregnant during her first unprotected sexual intercourse and 61% did not know about the male puberty (LSE review 2014). Access to sexual and reproductive health information and services is through Life skills based sexuality education in schools, YPEER network in colleges, institution and youth centers , adolescent friendly health units in selected district hospitals. However, the access and utilization of these services by young people remains low due to societal perception, low awareness and attitude of service providers. Just about 26% of teachers agreed that providing information on sexual and reproductive health do not encourage students to indulge into sexual intercourse (LSE review 2014)

Sonam Peldon, 16 years: "

In our country and in our culture sex education is avoided, the whole topics are omitted. There is a missing link and because of this missing link it has led to rise in teenage pregnancy, STI, mental health and eventually suicide.

" It is OK day " A female student was proud to tell her friends that it's OK for her father to buy her menstrual sanitary napkins, "I am not ashamed of asking my dad to buy it and that it's not only the business of female to know about the menstruation". Students felt that it was important to seek information from right source and timely help from teachers and friends

"My responsibilities as well"

Sonam Tobgay, 18: As a boy we don't know what problems a girl might face if she is to become pregnant at young age. This session gave knowledge and information on teenage pregnancy related issues and made me realize my responsibilities. Students from Motithang Higher Secondary School (Left) and from LungtenZampa Middle Secondary School (right) sharing their thoughts on consequences of teenage pregnancy The interactive session with school students though UNFPA support just began towards empowering young people with information and knowledge to be able to make positive behavioral outcome. A total of 3208 students (1779 female and 1429 male) and 204 teachers from five higher and a middle secondary schools in two districts have been covered.

Yangchen Tshogyal, 16: I personally as a girl learned a lot especially on prevention and consequences of teenage pregnancy. I was glad that my male friends were also there. We were able to explore topics which are not generally discussed openly like HIV, GBV. People consider this private.

Tashi Tshering, 17: Most of the problems which we considered it to be difficult were preventable if we sought help from teachers and friends.

Lungten Zampa Middle Secondary School Student: It's time for youths to open up even if it's in front of big crowd or one person. I realized how much opening up makes things lot easier. Now I feel guilty because I always through mentally ill people are not part of our society. They are also human and they must have had bigger problems and we must help. I have a friend and it's time that I help her now.