The Adolescent Health and Sexuality Survey Report

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The Ministry of Health is releasing to the public the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) Adolescent Health and Sexuality (AHS) Survey Report for the Cayman Islands. On receipt of the final copies of the report in early 2015, the relevant stakeholders who were part of the survey met to discuss the findings of the report and to decide on an action plan

The AHS Survey was developed with the technical support of PAHO and with financial support from the European Commission through the regional project “Strengthening the Integration of British and Dutch Overseas Caribbean Territories in the Regional Response to HIV”. One of the priorities in the area of prevention is the strengthening of territory capacity to develop and implement HIV/STI prevention programmes for young persons. Given the critical importance of strategic information to facilitate targeted programme planning and development for young people, it was decided to support the implementation of a health study among adolescents, focusing on sexuality and HIV, in the participating territories.

Adolescence is a key stage of the life course that affects health, opportunities and development for the rest of life. Adolescents in the Caribbean, as elsewhere, are experiencing a world undergoing demographic transition, globalisation, environmental changes, and a growing reliance on new communication technologies.

The aim of the survey was to conduct a holistic assessment of adolescents’ health, with emphasis on HIV and sexual and reproductive health, to inform the development of targeted interventions and to serve as a baseline. Quantitative and qualitative methods were utilised for the study, respectively a self-administered survey and focus groups. The target population for the study in the Cayman Islands was young people in school in the age group 15-19 years. Out of the 1186 potential participants, 955 youth participated in the survey, representing an 80.5% participation rate.

The report is expected to be used widely across both public and private sector stakeholders including the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Youth Affairs (IMCYA), a committee that serves to enact the National Youth Policy and Plan, as well the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Youth and the National Youth Commission (NYC).

Details of the findings are available within the report. Additionally the Ministry of Health and the Committee have prepared a guidance note for the public on the report.

The guidance note outlines the various initiatives that have already been put into place. The Ministry of Health is currently underway with the preparation of the National Health Policy’s Operational Plan, and will ensure the Plan incorporates actions that need to be taken for the country to address the weaknesses outlined in the report. The Mental Health Commission, under the auspices of the Ministry of Health has also commenced training to accompany the Mental Health Law 2013, for front line personnel and others who in the performance of their duties may interact with adolescents.

Other government initiatives that include aspects specifically tailored for our adolescent population include the Strategic Sports Advisory Group (SSAG) led by the Ministry of Community Affairs, Youth & Sports part of its remit of which is to get adolescents more involved in physical activity; the Ministry of Education, Employment & Gender Affairs’ Canteen Guidelines and Policy in place in the government schools in an effort to address nutritional needs of adolescents.

Minister of Health the Hon Premier Alden McLaughlin thanked the PAHO technical team and local Committee representatives for the work to date on the survey and report and noted: “The delivery of the report signals the start of the next stage of work; this report provides a solid baseline from which government ministries and departments can now work along with relevant non-governmental organisations, in order to improve the state of health and wellbeing of the adolescents of our country. Enacting recommendations and initiatives based upon this report is now one of the priorities of this Ministry.”

The Ministry of Health thanks PAHO / WHO for the technical assistance provided; the Department of Education for their partnership, dedication, commitment and understanding that health and education are mutually reinforcing and that collectively both will improve the health of young people; the Public Health Department and National Drug Council and other key stakeholders from the public and private sector for their support and cooperation to the process.

The following persons are members of the Committee in the Cayman Islands for the Adolescent Health Survey: Dr. Kiran Kumar, Therese Prehay, Laura Whitefield, Joanna Rose-Wright, Joan West-Dacres, Luisa McLaughlin, Simon Miller and the Ministry of Health’s Nancy Barnard and Janett Flynn. Representatives from the Cayman AIDS Foundation, the CI Red Cross, the Ministry of Community Affairs, Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs will also be involved to discuss future action steps so as to ensure a comprehensive governmental and NGO approach.

The report in full along with the guidance note can be found below.

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