Dhaka: Millions of adolescents in Bangladesh will be able to access health information and services through two online portals launched at the National Adolescent Health Conference.
The Adolescent Health website and mobile application, launched by the Bangladeshi Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with support from the UN children’s fund UNICEF and the Embassy of Sweden in Dhaka, on Tuesday are aimed at increasing awareness and ensuring easy access to physical and mental health information and services for adolescents.
“Adolescents can be powerful agents of change, and we must do all we can to empower them and to address their age-specific needs. The launch of these platforms represents the government’s commitment to strengthen adolescent-friendly health services in Bangladesh,” said Bangladeshi Minister of Health and Family Welfare Zahid Maleque.
Adolescents in Bangladesh, accounting for more than 36 million of the country’s population, face multiple social barriers to accessing information and health services that are essential for them to grow and thrive, UNICEF said in a statement.
It said low awareness and social stigma about mental health and mental illness, for example, are widespread among communities. And when it comes to sexual and reproductive health, it is challenging for both girls and boys to seek and find trusted information and vital services, the statement added.
“Adolescents need access to information, skills and services to enable them to reduce risk, but also to grow into capable adults that form a strong foundation for the next generation and the global future,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF representative to Bangladesh.
“The app gives them critical health information that they may be too shy to ask from parents, peers or health professionals.”
The Adolescent Health platforms include educational and gender-adapted guides and courses on sexual and reproductive health and rights, nutrition, violence, and physical and mental health, as well as information on how and where to access adolescent-friendly health services, Xinhua news agency reported.
To promote widespread use of the platform, the UNICEF said, Bangladesh’s Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and Ministry of Education will engage with adolescent clubs, youth peer groups and teachers in all secondary schools in the country.