Algeria: Reproductive health for the young and marginalized

  • International staff: 5
  • National staff: 11 Over the last few years, a move toward openness in Algerian society and the increasing number of women getting higher-level education have meant that many Algerians, particularly young people and women, are faced with new social contexts and a new sense of freedom. At the same time, education about reproductive matters and access to family planning services are limited in this traditionally conservative, Muslim society. The result is an increase in unplanned pregnancies and STD/HIV rates among the young. Médecins Sans Frontières has been working with both private and official agencies to address these sensitive health matters. Focus on reproductive health A new family planning program is aimed at improving access to reproductive health care services and AIDS education in Blida, a renowned university city about 50km south of Algiers. The program is slated to run for three years. It targets young people on three campuses and in two marginalized areas of the city, 19 June and Bananiers. The goal is to increase accurate knowledge and use of family planning methods, decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies and promote AIDS awareness among the young. Partners on the project include university administrators, municipal authorities and the Ministry of Health Department of Prevention. MSF has also been working with the Ministry of Health since June 2000 to organize a global AIDS prevention and education campaign targeting university campuses around the country. A transition year for MSF The last year has been a transition time for MSF in Algeria, with the phasing out or closure of some of its original programs. The Partnership Program, a networking and professional exchange project facilitated by MSF, came to a close in May 2000. Over a two-year period, 39 Algerian health institutions and organizations gained valuable contacts with their counterparts in Belgium and France. Workshops were held on a variety of topics in all three countries. A training program for mental health professionals in Algiers, which included the introduction of new therapy techniques and the setting up of a professional support group, has moved into a new phase. This new effort is a networking project for mental health professionals and community leaders in Tipassah, a small town near Algiers. Work introducing new methodologies to prevent the institutionalization of abandoned children in public institutions and children's homes was also phased out, after the successful opening of a new children's home. MSF has been working in Algeria since 1998.