(KPL) The outreach activities Manivone and her co-workers have been attending at the Venture Factory were part of the UNFPA collaboration with the Lao Women’s Union, the Lao Federation of Trade Unions and the Vientiane Youth Center.
Currently, four major garment factories operating in Vientiane, namely Diep Vu , Hatchi-Laos, Be Cooperate Export, Venture International (LAO), have signed up in an initiative to expand sexual and reproductive health information to around 2,600 young employees.
These young people, with the majority being female and unmarried, tend to face higher health risks due to multiple vulnerabilities as earlier school leavers, and migrants from poor and remote communities.
Though the country has seen significant expansion of family planning services, the usage of modern contraceptives remains extremely low at 14.5 per cent among unmarried women, while nearly half of married women are able to use modern contraceptives.
“When young people, women and couples have autonomy over their well-being and sexual reproductive health, not only they are healthier, they contribute better to their families, employers, communities and the country’s economy,” Ms Khamphay Latsamy, President of the Lao Women’s Union emphasized the long-term impact from having a healthier work force.
As the Representative of UNFPA in the Lao PDR, Mariam Khan pointed out, “Engaging the private sector is essential for the sustainable development of the country. Such type of workplace-based interventions improves employees’ well being but also makes for good business. Research shows increasing investment in family planning commodities, including contraception, is cost-effective, spending US$ 1 on contraceptives can reduce subsequent reproductive health care costs by $7. Globally more and more companies are investing in workplace programmes to improve employees’ well being which in turn improves their retention, quality of work and profitability. ”
With support from the Lao Women’s Union, Ministry of Health and UNFPA, the Vientiane Youth Center has been using the youth-to-youth approach to provide sexual and reproductive health information and services at the Vientiane Youth Clinic, targeted outreaches and the hotline services (number 1360).
With the 4 garment factories, the Vientiane Youth Center is also training peer educators from the factory employees so that they can help expand the coverage to large numbers of their co-workers. Up to now, nearly 200 adolescent and young people from the four garment factories attended the outreach activities, and 50 of them have started engaging other co-workers as trained peer educators.
UNFPA and the partners plan to assess the impact of the tailored approach to deliver sexual and reproductive health information and services to young factory workers. Positive results may potentially lead to a longer-term intervention model that will generate better health outcomes for young people, as well as better efficiency and productivity for their employers.
This work directly contributes to realising the Lao Government ‘s commitments made during the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 to invest in the 2030 Noi Framework for ending preventable maternal deaths, reducing child marriage and teenage pregnancy and ensuring that every woman and couple can plan if when and how many children to have. Relevant Lao Government’s Commitments includes: End unmet need for family planning among adolescent girls by 2030 through allocation of increased resources and expand quality youth-friendly services including SRH information and Family planning services women, men and unmarried young people countrywide as well as in humanitarian response. For more information, please visit www.lao.unfpa.org
Source: Lao News Agency