No more diffidence during puberty

The Pathfinder International Bangladesh and Prothom Alo jointly organised a workshop titled 'Teen and Youth Friendly Reproductive Health Services' in association with the "Happy Life” project of international development agency USAID in Sylhet on TuesdayProthom Alo

Teenage girls and young women will have to overcome the social and family barriers regarding reproductive health. They should break the ‘taboo’ and start talking openly in this regard. Teachers at educational institutions still hesitate to talk about puberty or reproductive health. Even in the family, many feel embarrassed to talk about these matters. This reticence is a major obstacle in the medical treatment of teenage girls and young women. Everyone needs to be aware about reproductive health from their teenage years.

Speakers at a workshop titled “Teen and Youth Friendly Reproductive Health Services”, organised at a local restaurant in the Jail Road area of Sylhet on Tuesday, made these observations. The Pathfinder International Bangladesh and Prothom Alo jointly organised the workshop in association with the "Happy Life” project of international development agency USAID.

Prothom Alo Sylhet Bandhushava assisted in organising the event. Over 50 students studying in different schools, colleges and universities of Sylhet participated in the workshop. The students received certificates at the end of the workshop.

Addressing the workshop, Pathfinder International’s adolescent and youth specialist Fatema Shabnam said, “Teenage girls and young women often hide the reproductive health issues due to embarassment which delays their treatment. Besides, there are many misconceptions about different reproductive health related issues, which are not realistic.”

She further said, “There are superstitions as well. For instance, there is a superstition that a girl should be isolated and should not eat meat or fish during a menstrual cycle. In many places, pregnant women are fed less to avoid any health complications. To break these misconceptions, teenage girls should talk about this openly with their guardians and should seek advice from the physicians if needed.

Pathfinder International’s regional programme manager in Sylhet and physician Mishal Chandra Paul presented the concept paper at the workshop. He mentioned results of surveys conducted by private agencies. He said that one fifth of the population is aged between 10-19 years. Some 11,956 women are diagnosed with uterus cancer every year on average and of them, some 6,582 die. Improper menstrual management in adolescence, marriage before the age of 18 and bearing excessive children are the causes of uterus cancer.

Sylhet Agragami Girls High School student Rupali Das said at the workshop that she learnt about different issues at the workshop, including her own health related issues. Besides, she also learnt that there are risks of different health complications, especially uterus cancer, in case of child marriage.  

Anupama Das, a private university student, said, “I learnt in detail about the common misconceptions regarding reproductive health.”

Sylhet SAARC International School and College student Shainik Baishnab said, “I live in a hostel. I was embarrassed to talk about puberty-related issues with my family. However, I have overcome that by talking about it openly during the workshop.”

Fuad Ahmad, an 11th grader of the Madanmohan College said, “We need to be more careful about reproductive health. Although I got some idea about it from internet, I had many questions. And I got the answers at the workshop.”

During the question-answer session of the workshop, the students asked whether taking pills to stop menstruation is harmful or not. In response, the speakers said that there is no harm in taking pills following the rules to stop menstruation. The students also asked whether cancer is genetic or not. In reply, the speakers said, cancer is usually non-genetic except in cases of the same type of cancer.

Suman Kumar, adolescent and youth coordinator of Happy Life Project and Pathfinder International, Mahmbuba Fahmi Tamanna, communication officer of the Pathfinder Dishari project, Firoz Chowdhury, Prothom Alo’s assistant editor and Suman Kumar Das, Prothom Alo’s staff correspondent in Sylhet were present at the workshop.

It was said in the workshop that two of the participants of the workshop in Sylhet would participate in the national workshop to be held in Dhaka.