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Youth Day 'chance to discuss sexual health'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

This year's theme for International Youth Day, 'Dialogue and Mutual Understanding' presents an opportunity to further conversations around adolescent sexual and reproductive health in the Pacific.

With over fifty-five percent of Pacific population under the age of 25, the implications of so many young and fertile people are immense, and are widely felt across the region.

The Chair of the New Zealand Parliamentarians' Group on Population and Development, Dr Jackie Blue, recently experienced this first hand during a study tour facilitated by Family Planning International to the Solomon Islands: "Those working in the field are reporting high rates of transactional sex amongst young people. The population here is young, but with limited opportunities for young people, youth unemployment at 75 percent, you can see the cocktail that's emerging. "

There are high STI and teenage pregnancy rates amongst Pacific youth, which is evidence that young people are not being provided with quality SRHR information and services. Many governments and NGOs are working to ensure that young people can access high quality sexual and reproductive health information and services. However, young people must be empowered and supported to advocate for greater youth focused services.

"Information and services makes young people safer. Parents need to talk with their children. Youth need to talk to other youth. Those working in this field need to hear directly from young people about what would make services more youth friendly. Improving dialogue and mutual understanding is an integral step towards meeting adolescent sexual and reproductive health needs in the Pacific" says Dr Blue.

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