• Developing messages for healthy behaviour

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Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated
countries in the world with almost 142 million
people living in 147,570 km2. By the year 2050, the
population of the least developed country is
projected to increase to 242.9 million. As a result of
continuing high fertility rates, especially in poor
rural areas, the country’s population is young. A full
40 per cent of the entire population is under the
age of 24, while one quarter are adolescents
between the ages of 10 and 19. Traditionally,
teenage marriage is highly prevalent. Due to the
fact that contraceptive prevalence is lowest among
married girls, childbearing starts early among
Bangladeshi women. Overall, half of the young
women have been pregnant at least once before
the age of 20. The consequences for both mother
and child are alarming: Maternal mortality among
adolescents is almost double the national average
and infant mortality is 30 per cent higher among
adolescent mothers.                                           II. THE RHIYA

Adolescents in Bangladesh live in a community,                The EU/UNFPA Reproductive Health Initiative for
which hold traditional beliefs and practices that still       Youth in Asia (RHIYA) is a collaboration between
restrict the discussion and flow of accurate sexual           the EU, UNFPA and over 80 local and European
and reproductive health information in the                    partner organisations working towards improving
household, the community and schools. Pre-marital             the sexual and reproductive health of young people
sex is taboo for social, religious and cultural               in seven South and South East Asian countries:
reasons, and access to accurate information on key            Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Pakistan,
sexual and reproductive health issues, including              Sri Lanka, and Viet Nam. The programme was
reproductive physiology, sexuality, family planning,          designed to develop broad-based partnerships in
and sexually transmitted infections, is severely              advancing the implementation of the ICPD
restricted at all levels. Reproductive health services        Programme of Action.
that do exist are often unresponsive to the broader
needs of adolescents, especially those who are                Comprising six projects altogether, the RHIYA in
unmarried.                                                    Bangladesh aims to develop positive changes in
                                                              sexual and reproductive health attitudes and
Bangladesh continues to have low HIV prevalence,              gender sensitive behaviours and practices among
but has high levels of documented risk behaviours:            the youth in urban and peri-urban areas. The key
Low levels of condom use, very high turn over of              strategies for reaching and serving youth in
clients of commercial sex workers, low knowledge              Bangladesh include:
regarding HIV/AIDS, and extensive needle and
syringe sharing by drug users suggest a potential             •   Making youth-friendly information and services
for growth in HIV infection rates. Adolescents, in                available at youth centres, condom cafes and
particular, are increasingly getting involved in the              other service delivery points.
sex trade, taking drugs, and migrating to other               •   Training peer educators to share sexual and
countries where they are exposed to risky                         reproductive health information with peers.
situations.                                                   •   Developing messages for healthy behaviour
                                                                  change through newsletters, drama, role-play
If some of these alarming developments above are                  and radio programmes.
to   be    changed,    Bangladeshi    youth   need            •   Working to educate community and religious
perspectives and choices. Well-designed youth                     leaders and parents on adolescent sexual and
programmes consider the many factors that shape                   reproductive health issues.
young people’s lives and influence sexual behaviour
and reproductive health decision-making.                      All of these strategies are covered by the RHIYA
                                                              projects in Bangladesh, which will be visited.

Bangladesh – SRHR at a glance                                         Mr. Alexander Lambsdorff, MEP, Germany
                                                                      Ms. Lyn Brown, MP, United Kingdom
Total population (millions) (2002)           141.81                   Ms. Magda De Meyer, MP, Belgium
                                                                      Mr. Roel Deseyn, MP, Belgium
Projected population (millions) (2050)       242.91
                                                                      Ms. Ana Manso, MP, Portugal
Life expectancy (M/F)                      62.8 / 64.61
% contraceptive prevalence: any                               3 staff as organizers:
% contraceptive prevalence: modern                                    Mr. Thierry Lucas, UNFPA
methods                                                               Ms. Karen Hoehn, DSW
Births per 1,000 women aged 15-19             1201                    Mr. Neil Datta, IEPFPD
Maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000
                                              3801            The study tour will also be accompanied by 8
live births)
Infant mortality total per 1,000 live            1
                                                              representatives from RHIYA partner organisations,
births                                                        Mr. Marc Westhof (videographer) and Ms. Nadine
HIV prevalence rate (%) (15-49)                0.12           Krysostan (assistant of Mr. Lambsdorff, MEP).
Average population growth rate (%)
                                                              VII. COST OF PARTICIPATION
Total fertility rate (2005)                   3.101
% births with skilled attendants               141            For parliamentarians and other invited guests, the
                                                              cost of travel and other necessary expenses will be
Health expenditures public (% of GDP)         0.81            covered from the study tour budget. Travel to
                                                              Bangladesh will be in World Traveller Plus class and
    UNFPA The State of World Population 2005                  accommodation in a hotel with good standing will
    World Bank Issue Brief HIV/AIDS Bangladesh 2003           be arranged. Modest per diems will be provided to
                                                              meet incidental costs.

The study tour offers a unique opportunity for a              VIII. HOSTS
selected group of European parliamentarians to                UNFPA Bangladesh, in collaboration with Concerned
gain firsthand experience of the RHIYA and its                Women for Family Development (CWFD), Marie
impact at country level, as well as to meet with              Stopes Clinic Society (MSCS) and Save the
national level policy makers, representatives of the          Children-UK, Bangladesh.
EU delegation, national embassies and UNFPA
                                                              IX. AGENDA
Having a greater insight and understanding of the
impact of adolescent sexual and reproductive health           The study tour to Bangladesh will comprise visits to
services in assisting with development will be                various projects designed to empower young people
crucial for parliamentarians to foster strong support         to make informed choices with regard to sexual and
and effectively advocate at European level.                   reproductive health. Meetings with governmental,
Development goals such as the ICPD and                        political international organisation officials will be
Millennium Development Goals will not be reached              arranged in Dhaka.
if the sexual and reproductive health needs of
young people are not addressed.                               The following are the project sites, which will be

IV. ORGANIZERS                                                    •   Dhaka Slum: Enabling environment for the
                                                                      youth (including meeting with gate keepers
UNFPA Brussels in collaboration with the German                       and slum leaders)
Foundation for World Population (DSW) and the
Inter-European Parliamentary Forum on Population                  •   Sylhet: Visiting a maternity hospital;
and Development (IEPFPD).                                             Attending a peer refreshers training and
                                                                      girls session in the community; Meeting
                                                                      with parents of slum youth
The study tour will take place from 19-25 February                •   Tongi: Experiencing RHIYA in school;
2006 in various locations throughout Bangladesh,                      Visiting a youth-friendly service delivery
with Dhaka serving as a hub.                                          point

                                                                  •   Mymensing: Attending a Youth Fair
7 parliamentarians from Europe’s major donor

The visit to these project sites will not only serve to       policy makers, researchers, parliamentarians, GOB
see young people in action in various aspects of              officials, the media and other stakeholders.
programme implementation, but it also offers a                Moreover, they organisee youth rallies, support the
valuable opportunity for parliamantarians to directly         partners for the same and publish a RHIYA
interact with the youth.                                      newsletter for adolescents and youth.

Visits to Bangladeshi officials:                              The project is implemented in five areas, i.e.
     •   The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare            periphery area of Bonosree, ward 22 of Dhaka City
     •   The Ministry of Youth                                Corporation, ward 19-20 & 25 of Khulna City
     •   Bangladeshi parliamentarians                         Corporation, parts of Gazipur, Tangail and
                                                              Narayangonj municipalities. Existing CWFD/BWHC
International / European meetings:                            clinics are converted as adolescent and youth-
    •   Delegation of the European Union                      friendly clinics.
    •   UNFPA
                                                              “Health Lifestyle for Urban Adolescents and Youth in
                                                              Outlying Districts”
                                                              Family Planning Association of Bangladesh (FPAB) is
The study tour will comprise visits to the following          the lead agency for capacity-building and human
projects, which ideally demonstrate the work of the           resource development. To this end, FPAB supports
RHIYA not only in Bangladesh, but also in the other           other partners for capacity-building, co-ordinates
six RHIYA partner countries:                                  needs assessments and assists in designing a
                                                              strategic plan for human resource development in
“Strengthening Community Linkages for Youth for
                                                              the RHIYA project and beyond. Moreover, FPAB’s
Sexual & Reproductive Health Services Bangladesh”
                                                              tasks include the initiation o training on counselling
Bangladesh     Red   Crescent   Society   (BDRCS)             and peer education at the community level as well
implements the project in two urban areas of                  as the integration of parents, guardians, teachers
Bangladesh, based in Sylhet and Banglabazar                   and community leaders into the programme in
(Dhaka). The project aims to develop positive                 order to effectively address the needs of the young
changes in sexual and reproductive health attitudes           people.
and gender sensitive behaviours and practices
among the target population. Two resource centres             The project areas include municipalities of Cox’s
are created in each of the catchment areas and the            Bazar, Jhalakhathi, Khagrachi, Laxmipur, Magura,
BDRCS maternity hospitals provide services to the             Netrokona, Panchagarh, Saidpur and sunamgonj.
youths and adolescents.                                       Sustainability is a key issue under the project and
                                                              will be addressed through a phase out plan and cost
BDRCS has thousands of youth volunteers (both                 sharing strategies.
male and female), which address sexual and
reproductive health issues. Moreover, awareness is            “Better Sexual and Reproductive Health Services for
created among guardians, religious leaders,                   Urban Adolescents & Youth”
teachers and other stakeholders.
                                                              Marie Stopes Clinic Society (MSCS) is the lead
                                                              agency for quality, culturally and gender sensitive
                                                              sexual    and   reproductive    health   education,
                                                              counselling and services for youth. MSCS sets the
                                                              standards for providing quality of care and assists
                                                              other partner NGOs to do so.

                                                              The project aims to widen and deepen services for
                                                              the poor, underserved and the vulnerable through
                                                              four    clinics   located    in    Tongi,   Narshingdi,
                                                              Mymensingh and Moulvibazar, and Dhaka City in
                                                              partnership with Nari Maitree. Both organisations
                                                              take the lead in developing and designing youth-
                                                              friendly clinics. The clinics have spaces with non-
                                                              clinical outlook to act as resource centres for
                                                              information,      counselling,     behaviour     change
“Creating a Better Environment for Sexual and                 communication, life skills and livehood training,
Reproductive Health among the Urban Adolescents               learning competition/games/entertainment, cultural
and Youth”                                                    activities    and    study      tours.    Youth-friendly
Concerned Women for Family Development (CWFD)                 counsellors are accessible and approachable. MSCS
is the lead agency for adolescent reproductive                also conducts peer-networking activities, media
health policy formulation. CWFD in partnership with           campaign and forum for parents, teachers and civil
Bangladesh Women’s Health Coalition (BWHC)                    society.
works to create an enabling environment, fostering
policy support for adolescent reproductive health
and supporting other RHIYA partners, including
“Empowering Adolescents on Sexual & Reproductive           United Kingdom
Health Decisions”                                          Bangladesh High Commission in the UK
                                                           28 Queen’s Gate
Save the Children-UK, Bangladesh, is the lead
                                                           London SW7 5JA
agency for empowering adolescents on sexual and
                                                           Phone: +44 20 7584 0081
reproductive health decisions with special emphasis
                                                           Fax: +44 20 7581 7477
on behaviour change communication materials
development for use by the wider partnership.
                                                           Please note that it normally takes about one week
Save the Children-UK, Bangladesh, works in
                                                           to obtain a visa. Expenses will be reimbursed upon
partnership with SOLIDARITY, Unnayan Sahayak
                                                           reception of receipts.
Sangstha (USS) and Young Power for Social Action
(YPSA) in the urban areas of Kurigram, Moulvibazar
and Chittagong, respectively. Youth are included,          Hotels
but the project actively targets adolescents and           Dhaka Sheraton Hotel
efforts are made to reach the marginalised segment         1 Minto Road
of adolescents and youth.                                  Dhaka 1000
                                                           Phone: +880 2 865 3636
The project aims to improve access to relevant             Fax: +880 2 831 2975
information and services on reproductive health for
adolescents. Gender analysis and participatory             Vaccinations
approaches are used to ensure active involvement           Assuming you are already vaccinated against
of adolescents at every stage and facilitate               tetanus, diphtheria and polio, the following
networking      with     stakeholders.    Ultimately       vaccinations are recommended for travelling to
empowering the adolescents so that they have               Bangladesh:
more control over the factors that effect and shape            •   Hepatitis A and B
their reproductive health. Save the Children-UK,               •   Typhoid
Bangladesh, facilitates to create community-based
resource centres. Existing youth clubs and cultural        Please consult your doctor regarding the necessity
organisations are also utilised for this purpose.          of taking Malaria prophylactics. Especially for trips
Moreover,    links   are    established   with   the       planned outside the capital Dhaka, it is
government and NGO clinics.                                recommended to take precaution (e.g. Malarone).

XI. PRACTICAL INFORMATION                                  Things to take
                                                              •   Insect/mosquito repellent
Visa                                                          •   Torch
Please ask for a visa at your nearest Bangladeshi             •   Light cotton clothes (female travellers: long
Embassy. Please note that airport visas (landing                  dresses preferred, e.g. long skirt, scarf)
permits) are no longer available upon arrival by              •   Aspirin, diarrhoea tablets
air. Bangladeshi Embassies are in:                            •   Sun lotion
Embassy of the People's Republic of Bangladesh             Money
29-31 Rue Jacques Jordaens                                 US dollars are an acceptable currency. Major towns
1050 Brussels                                              and cities have ATMs, and there appear to be more
Phone: +32 2 640 5500, 640 5606                            on the way. Visa, MasterCard and American
Fax: +32 2 646 5998                                        Express are usually accepted by major hotels and
                                                           restaurants in Dhaka and Chittagong. American
Denmark                                                    Express cardholders can obtain cash or traveller
Embassy of the People's Republic of Bangladesh             cheques with their cards.
Anderstorpsvägen 12, 1 Tr.
171 54 Solna
Phone: +46 8 730 5850
Fax: +46 8 730 5870
Botschaft von Bangladesch
Dovestr. 1
10587 Berlin
Phone: +49 30 398 9750
Fax: +49 30 398 97510