Liberia YMCA ACT 2 Live on Neglected Health Issues

A Training session -ACT 2 Live Health ProjectThe Liberia YMCA has ended several activities aimed at engaging the public and the media on work implemented in the area of neglected health issues.

As part of the activities under the Multi- Country Health Initiative Project, Youth Advocates from the Liberia YMCA engaged the public through the media on the implementation of work since the project begun in 2012.

Speaking during a public engagement Ms. Dekontee George, Advocacy Officer under the Act 2 Live Multi - Country Health Initiative Project said the engagements through the media was intended to create awareness on neglected health issues, engage stakeholders on the need to increase the number of skilled mental health practitioners and the decentralization of fistula repairing centers around the country.

Youth advocates also engaged the public through the media with emphasis on key decision makers, primary and secondary audiences on neglected health issues, enhancing youth friendly services, client to service provider relationship as well as the need for key decision makers to make policies and guidelines that will positively impact neglected health issues in Liberia.

The recent campaign of the Act 2 Live Project is intended to increase access of marginalized youth to quality health services in the area of mental health, fistula and STIs, with additional skilled mental health professional trained to reach out to vulnerable groups in all parts of the country; increase early warning awareness for hard to reach young people who have been affected as a result of the recent ebola outbreak in the country; establish additional psychosocial units in communities for young people affected as a result of the ebola virus disease and engage in massive fistula repairing program for young women.

Over the last few years the Act 2 Live project team has implemented a number of activities under the program some of which are:

The training of 5,000 young people in Liberia having increased awareness on neglected health issues such as STDs (gonorrhea, syphilis etc) addressing these issues with their peers. Specific targets were motorcyclists, teenage mothers and petty traders.

At a recent training in the Doe Community, a slum community in Monrovia, one resident, janet Sumo said the opportunity provided the community to know about neglected health issues was a gesture, she will never forget.

"We have never had the opportunity to know some of these health issues until today". janet said.A Service provider training ACT 2 Live Health Project

The training of 30 Youth advocates and 30 peer educators nationwide who will be directly working with their peers in selected communities.

The goal of the MCHI program has been to provide relevant, quality health information and community directed services that respond to the specific needs of vulnerable and marginalized groups of young people within selected communities of Montserrado, Bong and Lofa Counties in Liberia.

The project has also raised awareness of neglected health issues in order to improve access to youth friendly health services. The project also actively engaged young people in advocacy around health issues. It also directly addressed the link between poverty and health.

In particular it sought to respond specifically to the health needs of marginalized and vulnerable groups of young people, many of whom were forced to engage in high-risk behaviors with negative health implications.

Additionally, 500 hard to reach young people have improved health status through improved access to youth friendly health care services, through referral.

The YMCA under the Act 2 Live Project made several interventions through the donation of office materials including fans and desk trays stationeries and detergents to partners and or referral clinics including the Sonewein Community Clinic in Monrovia and the C.B. Dunbar Hospital in Bong County.

This was intended to enhance the partnership and the good working relations between the YMCA and the partner institutions under the Act 2 Live programme.

Moreover, several training and workshops for traditional health workers on the access of girls to family planning services and other neglected health issues were held.

Sixty one health care practitioners were trained in the delivery of youth- friendly services within project localities, while 72 service providers were trained to reduce sitgma and discrimination among young people

Refresher training or TOT for Peer Educators in were held in three regions in Liberia, Lofa, Bong and Montserrado Counties.

The training according to the YMCA Multi Country Health Initiative Coordinator, Monica Quaqua, was to enable peer educators reach the target indirect beneficiaries, thus making them effective in their work.

Also training for health care practitioners to replicate knowledge on youth friendly health services were held in Montserrado and Bong Counties with the primary goal being for health care practitioners to have and demonstrate increased knowledge and skills in youth friendly and health service provision, while at the same time allowing them to exercise best practices in service provision to youth.

Refresher training for youth advocates in budget literacy and monitoring. The training which targeted nineteen youth advocates was intended to enable them acquire knowledge and ideas about Liberia’s health budget while at the same time being able to know whether the budget has adequately been addressing neglected health issues identified from the Act 2 Live Youth Health Project.

These events targeted over 1500 persons with MCHI Act 2 Live peer educators creating awareness on neglected health issues among young people. It also provided the opportunity to provide increased knowledge on the prevention of STIs among young people.

The Multi Country Health Initiative (MCHI) ACT 2 Live Program of the Liberia YMCA is working to engage many young Liberians in the targeted communities. The project has also conducted community forums for young people in all of its communities. In helping to curb the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease, the project has provided training for peer educators to provide awareness about the EVD to their assigned communities.

As part of its mandate under the MCHI ACT 2 Live programs, the YMCA of Liberia took its activities to several slum communities including the Slipway and Clara Town communities.

Reaching out to the communities through sportsOver 700 young people were targeted through sporting events to create awareness, spread messages, peer-to-peer engagement and counseling and discuss neglected health issues with them.

The engagements through sporting activities were part of several interventions being implemented under the ACT2 Live Youth Health Initiative which provides an opportunity for peer educators and young advocates to work together to mobilize young people into forum where they can freely discuss among themselves or with selected relevant decision makers and stakeholders on specific neglected health disease and challenges that are affecting young people, and giving access to relevant health information and services.

The Multi Country Health Initiative (MCHI) Act 2 Live program is being implemented by the Liberia YMCA in three counties in Liberia, Montserrado, Bong and Lofa Counties, with six locations in Montserrado County, three each in Bong and Lofa Counties.

The project is also being implemented across the other YMCA movements in five countries around Africa including Madagascar, Senegal, Togo, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The program is funded by the Swedish Government (SIDA) through the Swedish Mission Council with Sweden YWCA -YMCA and implemented in partnership with the Sweden YMCA-YWCA, the Africa Alliance of YMCAs, and Y Care International.

Story: Emmanuel S. King,  Jr.