Out-of-school youth in Liberia face many health challenges, including high rates of unintended pregnancy, low levels of knowledge about their HIV status, and limited access to medical care. Improving public health for these young people requires innovative interventions that reach well beyond formal health settings.
One such intervention, HealthyActions, joined health education with sexual and reproductive health services for out-of-school youth. The EDC-implemented USAID Advancing Youth Project, which supports basic education and youth workforce development across Liberia, served as the basis for HealthyActions. It was conducted by EDC in collaboration with Population Services International (PSI) and offered within Ministry of Education public primary schools.
HealthyActions reinforced the role of education in supporting behavior change and improved health indicators. The initiative’s activities included:
- Implementing six-day HealthyActions programs in five counties in Liberia with Advancing Youth Project learners and other community members
- Bringing Ministry of Health and Social Welfare services, such as HIV testing and the provision of contraceptives, to the participants to facilitate health interventions
- Training learners as Peer Health Educators so they can educate classmates on the health issues raised in HealthyActions
- Evaluating the impact of the HealthyActions pilot on health behaviors
- 2,878 learners and 1,793 community members took part in HealthyActions.
- An evaluation of the pilot program found that female learners who participated in HealthyActions were 13 percent more likely to use some form of contraception than learners at control sites. All learners who participated in HealthyActions were 45 percent more likely to have received HIV testing than learners at control sites.