Beyond the Basics of SRHR: A Vision for Comprehensive Adolescent Care in Bangladesh

Amidst the growing significance of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) for adolescents in Bangladesh, a critical roundtable discussion was convened on September 20, 2023. Organized by RHSTEP and Prothom Alo, the discussion brought together experts, government officials, and stakeholders to assess the progress and future direction of the National Adolescent Health Strategy (2017-2030). This vital gathering addressed the pressing issues affecting the youth of Bangladesh and emphasized the need for comprehensive care to ensure their well-being.


The discussion revolved around the critical issues surrounding adolescent health, acknowledging the significance of good physical health and its impact on mental well-being. The participants highlighted the need for a holistic approach, emphasizing nutrition, sports, and entertainment as essential components of adolescent development.

The adverse effects of factors such as COVID-19, conflicts, and the misuse of technology on adolescents were addressed. The participants underscored the importance of effective measures from policymakers to combat issues such as addiction and involvement in criminal activities among adolescents.

Md. Masudur Rahman discussed the objectives of the RHRN project, focusing on youth empowerment and sexual and reproductive health rights. The project collaborates with various organizations, including RHSTEP, BRAC, Naripokkho, Nagorik Uddyog, and youth-led partners like Oboyob, Youth Policy Forum (YPF), and Wreetu.

Md. Monjur Hossain provided insights into the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s efforts to improve youth health services, with a focus on preventing violence, improving reproductive health, nutrition, and mental health. He emphasized the need for multi-sectoral collaboration to address the diverse needs of adolescents.

Muhammad Munir Hussain highlighted the slow progress in addressing adolescent health issues and called for collaboration with schools, industries, and training centers to provide services and information. He stressed the importance of improving teachers’ knowledge about sexual and reproductive health issues and called for government support in this area.

Mushfiqua Zaman Satiar discussed the importance of scalable projects, emphasizing the need for accurate information about mental health, menstrual health management, and sexual and reproductive health for adolescents. She underlined the role of social media in reaching young people and the need for guidelines on how parents, teachers, and others can discuss these topics with youths.

Fariha Haseen stressed the importance of starting discussions about sexual and reproductive health within households and involving parents and guardians. She emphasized the need for comprehensive sex education and guidelines for parents, teachers, and others to discuss these issues with adolescents.

The discussion also addressed the crucial role of nutrition and emphasized the need for improved services and facilities for adolescents in schools, health centers, and the community. The participants called for collaborative efforts from both government and non-government organizations to ensure the well-being of adolescents.

Nandalal Sutradhar highlighted the significance of adolescent nutrition and called for multifaceted initiatives to address issues related to reproductive health, nutrition, child marriage, and school dropouts. He stressed the importance of collaboration among the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Ministry of Education, and the media to create a friendly environment for adolescents.

Fatema Shabnam discussed the efforts of Pathfinder International, focusing on improving the skills of healthcare providers and providing information and services related to sexual and reproductive health. She also mentioned the importance of addressing mental health and reaching marginalized groups.

Mohammad Zahirul Islam called for improved coordination among organizations working on adolescent health and the development of an operational plan. He stressed the need to choose between a targeted and universal approach to address the diverse needs of young people.

Elvina Mustary pointed out the need for ongoing training for service providers and the importance of creating a friendly environment for young people to discuss their health concerns.

Nurun Nahar Begum shared her vision of adolescents becoming ideal citizens and emphasized the need for nutritious food, sports, and entertainment. She called for the protection of children and the involvement of parents and guardians in creating a supportive environment.

Quazi Suraiya Sultana summed up the discussion, highlighting the importance of implementing the recommendations discussed during the roundtable. She emphasized the role of parents in creating a positive family environment and expressed hope that young people would grow up as ideal citizens.

Recommendations from the discussion included a focus on mental health, awareness among parents, accurate information for youths, tailored projects, and attention to adolescents who are married or physically challenged. The importance of nutritious food, sports, and entertainment, improved teacher training, hygienic toilets in educational institutions, and enhanced training for healthcare providers were also emphasized.

The roundtable discussion served as a platform for experts and stakeholders to address the pressing issues facing adolescents in Bangladesh and outline a roadmap for their well-being in the years to come. It underscored the collective responsibility of government and non-government organizations in ensuring a bright future for the youth of the nation.

Key Participants in the Discussion:

Nurun Nahar Begum: Line Director, Clinical Contraception Services Delivery Program Unit, Directorate General of Family Planning Quazi Suraiya Sultana: Executive Director, RHSTEP Md. Monjur Hossain: Program Manager (A and RH), MCH-Services Unit, Directorate General of Family Planning Nandalal Sutradhar: Deputy Program Manager, National Nutrition Services Fariha Haseen: Associate Professor, Dept. of Public Health and Informatics, BSMMU Mohammad Zahirul Islam: Senior Health Advisor, Development Cooperation Section, Embassy of Sweden, Dhaka Mushfiqua Zaman Satiar: Senior Adviser – Social Sector; Focal Point for SRHR, Gender and Youth; Coordinator- SCS Partnerships in Bangladesh Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN) Muhammad Munir Hussain: Program Analyst – Adolescent & Youth, UNFPA Bangladesh Fatema Shabnam: Adolescent and Youth Specialist, Pathfinder International Md. Masudur Rahman: National Coordinator, RHRN-2, BRAC Elvina Mustary: Deputy Director (Program), RHSTEP Observers and Moderator: Shashwatee Biplob: Programme Head and In-Charge of Social Empowerment and Legal Protection Programme (SELP), BRAC Nazia Zebin: Executive Director, Oboyob Joyeeta Hossain: Project Coordinator, RHRN 2, Nagorik Uddyog Sharmin Kabir: Founder & Chairman, Wreetu Shamima Chowdhury: Ex-Consultant, UNICEF Shamayla Mahbub: Project Lead, RHRN-2, YPF Md Mahbubul Haque: Director (Program), RHSTEP Abdul Quayum: Associate Editor, Prothom Alo Moderator: Firoz Choudhury: Assistant Editor, Prothom Alo

Source: Prothom Alo

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