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The Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) is a non-governmental organisation established in 1959 with an aim to work in the field of sexual and reproductive health so that people can have access to a range of safe and affordable contraceptive methods. Since 1983, FPAN has gradually been shifting its emphasis from mere family planning services to the comprehensive reproductive health and sexuality programs that include family planning, safe motherhood, child health, prevention and management of complications regarding abortion, STI, HIV, AIDS, adolescent reproductive health and health problems of elderly women. FPAN gives a free counselling about the advantages, disadvantages and risks of the contraceptives, and abortion in a hospitable manner to help the clients make a choice by themselves. It works
to ensure that women, men and young people have accurate information as well as non-judgemental counselling and comprehensive and affordable services to prevent unwanted pregnancy and the HIV infection that leads to AIDS.
Free hotline service
In recent years, FPAN has intensified its efforts to provide both sexual and reproductive health
education and help to the young people through hotline counselling. Since July 2004, it is providing free hotline service from 2 to 4 pm, Monday to Friday taking into account the increasing need and importance of counselling and to increase the utilisation rate of their
services. To provide these services, FPAN also provides training to the counsellors. Ashwani Rana, counsellor, says: “Usually, it is the youth and the unmarried who take help from telephone counselling and those who come to the centre are fertile couples of the age group 22-39.” Rana started working as a counsellor 18 years ago, after she received a general training from FPAN to develop basic counselling skills on medical and non-medical problems. Some of the more complicated cases are referred to psychologists, though. “Most of the calls we receive are queries about the size of their organs, menopause or loss of sexual desire. On an average, men are taking the advantage of our services in comparison to women. There is no time limit; we attend a call for 10-20 minutes depending on the case and the requirement of the client. So usually we are able to attend 9-10 calls everyday where adolescents ask questions about personal issues which they are too shy to discuss with medical workers, teachers and parents,” says Rana.
Importance of counselling services
Adolescents and youth constitute the largest segment of population (42 per cent) in Nepal. This segment of population is very vulnerable with high-risk behaviour. However, formal sex education is practically non-existent in Nepal. The status of women and youth will further deteriorate in the absence of timely steps to address the reproductive health problems relating to adolescents, youth and women. So hotline counselling is the most youth friendly way to help adolescents solve their sexual and reproductive health problems. Rana says,
“Most young people do not have the access to information and services essential for good health and responsible sexual and reproductive behaviour. As a result, many young people rely on friends and peers for these information. In most cases, their friends know little more than they do and the lack of information invariably leads to risky reproductive health behaviour.” Hotline counselling has, therefore, proved to be an effective means of responding to the information needs of individuals. So if you have any questions or problems regarding sexual and reproductive health and are hesitating to seek help from the general practitioner, just dial 5554092 anytime between Monday and Friday. You would find someone very caring and willing to pay attention to all your problems and put forward solutions and information on the other end of the line.