Young people and vulnerable groups in the Western Balkans face a great many barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive healthcare. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they have borne the brunt of additional obstacles to accessing information, support and care. COVID-19 has demonstrated how fragile national health systems are and highlighted countries’ unpreparedness to deal with health emergencies. But it has also stimulated creativity by civil society and other actors to counter these barriers, with digital outreach and support playing an expanding, crucial role.
Youth Voices, Youth Choices is a project dedicated to learning from the COVID-19 experience in the Western Balkans to ensure sexual and reproductive health services and information become more accessible and youth-friendly in the long term, especially for marginalised groups. Running from 2020 until 2023, it brings together IPPF members and partners in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Kosovo, supported by IPPF EN’s Regional Office.
Participants will conduct research into the impact of the pandemic on young people’s SRH needs and access to services and information, and the role of integrated digital services, with a focus on communities living in remote areas and unfavourable social conditions. They will share good practices and empower young people as campaigners and advocates using digital and offline education tools. And working in multi-stakeholder partnerships, they will develop policy recommendations to support advocacy and youth-led campaigns for stronger health systems and increased access to care, in and beyond emergency situations.
This work is funded by MSD for Mothers.