DHAKA, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) — Millions of youth in Bangladesh will be able to access health information and services through two online portals launched at the National Adolescent Health Conference on Tuesday.
The Adolescent Health website and mobile application, launched by the Bangladeshi Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF and the Swedish Embassy in Dhaka, aims to raise awareness and ensure easy access to information on physical and mental health and services for young people.
“Teenagers can be powerful agents of change, and we must do everything we can to empower them and meet their age-specific needs. The launch of these platforms represents the government’s commitment to strengthening youth-friendly health services in Bangladesh,” said Bangladesh Minister of Health and Family Welfare Zahid Maleque .
Youth in Bangladesh, who account for over 36 million of the country’s population, face multiple social barriers to accessing the information and health services necessary for them to grow and thrive, UNICEF said in a statement.
It said low awareness and social stigma about mental health and mental illness, for example, is widespread among communities. And when it comes to sexual and reproductive health, it is challenging for both girls and boys to seek and find reliable information and important services, the statement said.
“Teenagers need access to information, skills and services to help them reduce risk, but also to grow into capable adults who provide a strong foundation for the next generation and the global future,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh. “The app gives them important health information that they might be too shy to ask from parents, peers or healthcare professionals.”
The Adolescent Health platforms include educational and gender-specific guides and courses on sexual and reproductive health and rights, nutrition, violence, and physical and mental health, as well as information on how and where to access youth-friendly health services.
To promote widespread use of the platform, UNICEF said, Bangladesh’s Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs and Ministry of Education will work with youth clubs, youth peer groups and teachers in all secondary schools in the country.