Building an Adolescent-Responsive Health Systems Approach

Published on March 1, 2021

Pathfinder International

The current approach to improving the quality of and access to health care for adolescents is to create adolescent-friendly health services that are accessible, acceptable, and equitable to—and appropriate and effective for—adolescents. In most health facility settings, adolescent-friendly health services are typically implemented by creating separate rooms or corners for adolescents and providing one “youth-friendly” training for a specific health care provider. This limited approach leaves many young people confused about where they are welcome within health facilities and, in some cases, unclear about which services are available to them.

In response, those working in the adolescent and youth reproductive health field, including MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership (MCGL), recommend an adolescent-responsive health systems approach. By strengthening the different elements of a health system instead of focusing only on separate rooms or irregular provider training, we can more sustainably meet the needs of adolescents at scale.

In an adolescent-responsive system, each building block of the health system—including health providers, leadership, and financing systems— responds to adolescents’ health needs. NextGen RH is a new Community of Practice focused on strengthening each part of the health system in a collective effort for adolescent and youth reproductive healtlh. NextGen RH collaborated with MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership to create a more integrated approach to serving youth, including areas for collective action among youth leadership, those who work in the health system, and monitoring and evaluation officers.

Check out this blog post from Knowledge Success to read about these collective action areas and learn more on implementing adolescent-responsive health systems approaches.

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