When thinking about health access, it is important to keep in mind youth health access. The mission of 4 Youth By Youth (4YBY) is for youth to be active engagers in their health and understand that their voice matters in health decisions. This is why understanding what the Nigerian National Standards and Minimum Service Package entails is so important. Not only does 4YBY strive for equitable health services and access for Nigerian youth, it also aims for youth-friendly services where youth feel comfortable talking about health decisions, youth understand the health services that are being provided to them, youth are asking questions and seeking answers about their health, and youth are at the forefront of making positive changes that are contributing not only to their health, but the health of their communities.
According to the 2018 Nigerian National Standards and Minimum Service Package for Adolescent and Youth-Friendly Health Services document commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Health and supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a standard is “a statement of desired quality and critical terms of adolescent and youth-friendly services which specify clear performance goals and make the definition of quality required for any service explicit” . The National Standards for the provision of adolescent and youth-friendly health services (AYFHS) in Nigeria were developed to provide a plan for the optimal health and development of young people . It is important that young people have standards in health, so let’s take a closer look at these standards and understand what they mean in the context of 4YBY.
Standard 1: There is an enabling environment in the community to support the provision and appropriate utilization of adolescent and youth health services.
Standard 2: Young people in the primary area of the health facility are aware of its services and find the health facility accessible in reach and services.
Standard 3: Young people find the health facilities environment, setting, organization, and procedures appealing and acceptable.
Standard 4: Young people are treated with respect, dignity, and in an equitable manner, despite their health, socio-demographic, or political status, when visiting health service delivery facilities.
Standard 5: Health facilities services to young people are evidence-based, effective, and in line with the nationally defined package.
Standard 6: Service providers are sensitive to the needs of young people and maintain their privacy and confidentiality in service delivery.
Standard 7: Service providers are skilled and motivated to provide health services to young people in an adolescent and youth-friendly manner.
Standard 8: Managerial systems are in place to improve and sustain the quality of health services provided by young people by the health facilities.
Standard 9: Young people are actively involved in the design, distribution, and monitoring of adolescent and youth-friendly health services .
The standards presented above offer concrete action steps for young people accessing health services. To review briefly, standard 1 calls on community support, including parents, organizations, and leadership to be involved in the provision of services for young people’s health and well-being, while standard 2 urges for health services to be accessible and obtainable for young people and relevant to their health needs. Standard 3 encourages that the health service procedures are friendly and acceptable to young people, and standard 4 calls on health care providers to deliver health services to young people with a level of care and consideration no matter their age, sex, social status, cultural identity, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, or any other factor. Thus, standard 5 notes that health facilities should be useful and effective in the services they provide to young people and aligned with national clinical protocol provisions and the nationally defined package of services, where even the health providers are competent in working with young people who have diverse needs and can offer useful communication .
Further, standard 6 states that service providers are thoughtful of adolescent and youth clients, show consideration, have an understanding of their development, and ensure privacy and confidentiality during their visit. Standard 7 ensures that health workers are trained in providing adolescent and youth-friendly health services in an enthusiastic manner, passionate about delivering quality services, and are fulfilled and have a sense of value when providing services. Moreover, standard 8 calls on mechanisms to monitor performance standards of the health facility and quality improvement, while standard 9 urges young people to be actively involved with sharing their needs and preferences in service and monitoring of adolescent and youth-friendly health services. More information about the standards and their rationale can be found at 2018 Nigeria National Standards & Minimum Service Package for Adolescent & Youth-Friendly Health Services.
As with the national standards, the minimum service delivery package for AYFHS as provided in the Nigeria National Standards and Minimum Service package offer facility-based health services such as primary care facilities for young people that cater to young people and service points such as school-based or school-linked services that are located within an educational institution. The service delivery components for the minimum package of services for AYFHS in Nigeria focus on physical, psycho-social, and mental development, sexual and reproductive health, violence and injuries, mental health, and nutrition, just to name some. Promotive and preventive services such as health monitoring and health education and communication and referral to other service providers also encompass the minimum service package, while also making room for curative services that ensure treatment for restoration of health and well-being for adverse outcomes .
We at 4YBY look to these standards and the minimum service package when creating innovative and youth-friendly health services for young Nigerians. Not only do the standards and package impact the work that 4YBY does, they are also beneficial to ensuring the creation of future health interventions that are co-created by youth and made for youth. It is important that young people know that a health care system has them in mind. Creating a health care system without youth in mind can cause repercussions when accessing services later in adulthood and deter youth from being motivated about their health. 4YBY strives to change negative perceptions about health into informed and positive decisions that can set the tone for a more equitable health environment. Thus, 4YBY calls on local government agencies, community members, health providers, educators, and family members to encourage youth innovation and increase spaces for youth to showcase their talents while also ensuring that they feel safe talking about issues pertaining to their health.
To ensure the implementation and sustainability of youth health services, 4YBY’s activities are designed to be implemented with care and meant to last. Similar to 4YBY, gathering stakeholder buy-in and groundwork at the state and national level will be important for successful implementation and future sustainability of the Nigerian national standards. The minimum service package will also be important for sustained resources and resource development for young Nigerians and as they develop. Giving youth the chance to be involved in a health infrastructure has power. Shaping health resources with young Nigerians in mind can really impact their development. At 4YBY, we are committed to youth and want to make sure that their health is framed for them and by them.
- Nigeria National Standards & Minimum Service Package for Adolescent &YouthFriendly Health Services (2018). (2018). Ministry of Health. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Retrieved from https://www.prb.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Nigeria-National-Standards-Minimum-Service-Package-for-Adolescent-Youth-Friendly-Health-Services-2018.pdf