What if I told you that Juan, a community health worker in rural Ecuador, is providing injectable contraceptives outside the clinic setting to indigenous community members?
What if I told you that Juan is actually 15-years-old and the clients he's reaching are also youth?
Juan and 30 other young people, aged 11-19, are the first group of peer promoters to use a peer-to-peer community based model to deliver injectables and other contraceptives to rural and indigenous youth in the Chimborazo region of central Ecuador. The program is born of a partnership between Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and CEMOPLAF, a major Ecuadorian reproductive health NGO.
Ecuador has the highest adolescent fertility rate in Latin America, and this skyrockets when we're talking about rural or indigenous youth. Among community members in the region here, just 6 percent of women and 12 percent of men reported contraceptive use, while less than half of all women reported any knowledge of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
This program meets the needs of a particularly underserved and hard-to-reach group, with a new contraceptive method, in a new way. The peer promoters hail from 15 different small communities within the region and are providing a brand new range of services to their peers. They meet weekly at a central clinic location to discuss challenges and attend trainings. There, CEMOPLAF also provides lunch, transportation costs and job-skills training.
Absolutely fascinating program.
Another socially contagious approach to public health. This time, it's teens literally innoculating each other against STDs.