Today the largest cohort of youth in human history—1.1 billion youth between the ages of 15 to 25— is making the transition from adolescence to adulthood. That already challenging transition is often made more difficult for young people due to high levels of risky behavior, such as unprotected and often unwanted sex, that can have far-reaching consequences for their health and future opportunities.

To help address such challenges, the International Youth Foundation’s (IYF) Planning for Life initiative, launched in 2007, has been providing information and support to organizations worldwide to help them to integrate reproductive health (RH) and family planning (FP) into existing youth development programs, including those focused on employability, education and HIV/AIDS prevention. As part of this initiative, funded through USAID, Planning for Life has sought to strengthen the capacity and increase the awareness of RH and FP issues among youth-serving organizations within IYF’s global partner network through pilot projects in India, Philippines, and Tanzania.

To further advance the strategy of integration, IYF is releasing a new publication and educational toolkit that together offer a wide range of practical advice, lessons learned, and technical advice. Integrating Youth Reproductive Health and Family Planning into HIV/AIDS Education, the latest in IYF’s Field Notes series, presents IYF’s experiences in Tanzania, where Planning for Life incorporated reproductive health education and family planning services into its HIV prevention activities and trained local service providers to offer youth-friendly reproductive health services.   

“We know that integrating these services and programs not only helps to reinforce positive behaviors among young people but also saves money,” says Peter Shiras, Executive Vice President at IYF. “So we are reaching out to organizations on the ground as well as to policy makers to ensure they have the necessary resources and information to promote community-based public health-related activities in a more comprehensive and integrated way.”    

IYF is also releasing a Planning for Life Integration Toolkit that represents all educational resources developed and collected over the two-year span of the project. The toolkit, in the form of a CD, includes a reproductive health and HIV/AIDS curriculum for Muslim youth, a curriculum on adolescent reproductive health and life skills, supplemental reproductive health and family planning lessons for organizations that have pre-existing life skills curricula, and fact sheets describing health challenges and opportunities in critical regions around the world.

Additional resources from international NGOs, government and multilateral organizations incorporate best practices, lessons learned, and programmatic and technical advice. Through selection of the most relevant and quality resources, the Integration Toolkit aims to inform and support programs  that are integrating youth reproductive health and family planning into existing (or future) youth development programs globally.