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24-25 February 2022, Oudomxay province: The Ministry of Health (MoH) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) joined hands to visit Oudomxay province and witness the impacts of key UNFPA youth-focused interventions. The two-day mission to this province, where numerous ethnic groups reside, was led by Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Minister of Health and Ms. Mariam A. Khan, UNFPA Representative to Lao PDR. It took a first-hand look at the UNFPA-supported Adolescents and Youth Friendly Services (AYFS) programme and Nang Noi Girl Groups initiative in action, providing adolescent sexual and reproductive health information and unlocking access to services for youth. The delegation, welcomed by Mr. Bounkhong Lajiemphone - Governor of Oudomxay province, discussed ways to accelerate the implementation and scaling-up of these youth-focused interventions. 

Picture 1: The health staff providing information on body changes during the session in Namor District, Oudomxay Province. Photo by: Lorkuangming/UNFPA.

AYFS programme in action

The delegation visited the AYFS facility at Oudomxay provincial hospital where UNFPA-trained health providers deliver essential sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information, education, and counseling for young people to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases (STI), HIV and unplanned pregnancies. A key feature of these services is life skills for young people to make informed decisions for a healthy lifestyle. 

Picture 2: Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Minister of Health (right) talking to the youth-friendly service providers at Oudomxay provincial hospital. Photo by: Lorkuangming/UNFPA.


Youth-friendly services are critical for adolescents and youth, and further investment is much needed to make AYFS universally accessible for every young person nationwide,” said Dr. Phoummalaysith, who underlined the need to scale-up the AYFS programme to cover adolescents and young people of all ethnicities.

MOH and UNFPA supported Oudoumxay to roll out AYFS in Xay district two years ago and since expanded to Namor district in 2020, the AYFS programme applies a package developed by UNFPA with MoH consisting of training for health providers and mobile outreach to schools, factories and communities where peer educators, complemented by a mobile application (Noi Yakhoo), disseminate SRH messages.  Good Neighbors and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) have both contributed financially to the initiative.  

Oudomxay has the most youthful population in the country, with 74,900 people aged 10–19 years, the aim of AYFS is to integrate youth-friendly and healthcare services provided by public health facilities to ensure young people make healthy choices and are educated, empowered and employed to become a driving force for economic growth. This is a particularly relevant in Oudomxay, which has higher national average child marriage (32.3 per cent) and adolescent pregnancy rates (105\1000) among young people aged 15–19 years. To meet the ambitious national targets and respond to the needs of adolescent and young people, the AYFS programme expanded in 2021 to another three districts [La, Nga, and Beng]. By 2021, 82 percent of health facilities staff were trained in AYFS in the province, covering service provision to more than 92,500 adolescents and youth in the areas. AYFS rooms were established at the provincial and Namor district hospitals,” Ms. Khan said.

Picture 3: Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Minister of Health (left), Dr Houmphan Inthamoungkhoun, the Provincial Health Director of Oudomxay province (centre), and Ms. Mariam A. Khan (right) discussing the scaling-up of the AYFS programme after visiting the youth-friendly service room. Photo by: Lorkuangming/UNFPA.

NNGG empowers peers to make healthy choices 

The delegation also witnessed the Nang Noi Girl Groups (NNGGs) initiative in Namor district with a session on puberty led by Nang Noi mentors, supported technically by district hospital health providers. Dr. Phoummalaysith told participants: “Sexual and reproductive health information is essential for you as an adolescent and young people to learn about your body changes, including how to protect yourself. Therefore, I urge you to participate in the sessions together with your peers actively and bring the knowledge and lessons into practice. The sexual reproductive health is basic fundamental knowledge that will be with you from today and later life. You will know how to protect yourself and plan how many children you will have when you have a family. You can share this knowledge with friends and teach your children in due course.

Picture 4: Adolescent girls participating in the NNGG session in Namor district. Photo by: Lorkuangming/UNFPA. 


The NNGGs engages 1,200 adolescent girls aged 10-14 years and 126 mentors (girls aged 15-24 years) from 63 villages of Namor district. These mentors then transfer knowledge to adolescent girls through weekly sessions in their villages. The intervention is complemented by 20 healthcare providers from nine health centers and the Namor district hospital trained on youth-friendly services. 


NNGGs is one of the key components of the Noi approach that the UNFPA Lao PDR country office introduced to increase investments assisting adolescents and ensuring adolescent girls are part of achievements towards the Sustainable Development Goal targets. The girl’s group intervention aims to empower adolescent girls by establishing safe spaces and opportunities to build their social, health, cognitive, and economic skills, stay in or re-enroll in school, and delay pregnancy and marriage to fulfill their potential. The methodology for the girls’ groups is a holistic approach, evidence-based, globally tested and verified model,” said Ms. Khan.


Handover equipment to Namor community hospital

In addition to visiting youth-focused interventions, a handover ceremony was conducted to provide a laptop, printer, delivery bed and medical examination light to Namor community hospital. This equipment was provided by UNFPA in partnership with KOICA. At this newly constructed community hospital, a new AYFS room is being established to provide youth-friendly services within this year. 

Picture 5: the medical equipment handover ceremony at Namor Community Hospital. Photo by: Lorkuangming/UNFPA. 

SRH information at the railway station

To round-off this high-profile field visit, as it was conducted by train, UNFPA and the MoH also took this opportunity to explore provision of SRH information at the Laos-China railway station. This information – encompassing unplanned pregnancy, child marriage, HIV/AIDs, STIs, contraceptives and gender-based violence – will be provided in Lao, English, and Chinese languages subject to further discussions between the two parties. 

Picture 6: Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Minister of Health (left) and Ms. Mariam A. Khan, UNFPA Representative to Lao PDR (right) in the VIP room of the Laos-China railway station, discussing a project to provide SRH information for passengers at the station. Photo by: Lorkuangming/UNFPA.

Available hotline/helpline:

  • Sexual and reproductive health: 1361 (for female) 137 (for male)
  • GBV, sexual abuse and exploitation, human trafficking: 1362
  • Mental health and psychosocial support: 1554
  • Sexuality education: Noi Yakhoo mobile apps (download the apps by scanning the QR code below)

For more information please contact:

Ms. Siriphone Sally Sakulku, 

SRH Programme Coordinator, UNFPA Laos


Ms. Vanly Lorkuangming

Communications and Partnerships Analyst, UNFPA Laos