In Cambodia, the largest age group is between 15 to 25 years old. Some of them live in bad economic situations that are not condusive to receiving proper medical knowledge. This is why some organisations have conducted certain programs to help them improve their knowledge of health-related issues, especially reproductive health.
Sok San, 36, is the team leader of Youth Health Program of Reproductive Health Association in Cambodia (RHAC) based in Phnom Penh. He has helped to educate many youths on reproductive health.
He said he started working in this field in 2006, mainly targeting young people in villages. Discussions are held on topics such as vulnerability to HIV/AIDS , sexually transmitted diseases, reproductive tract infections, family planning, abortion, hygiene, nutrition, illicit drug use, sexual orientation, life skills and gender issues.
Coming from Battambang province, Sok San has lived in Phnom Penh since he was young and completed his bachelor’s degree in management studies from the Royal University of Law and Economic in 2002. He is currently pursuing his MBA at the Build Bright University in Phnom Penh.
Although he has a degree in management, he is most interested in working in the field of health and community service.
He said that before working for RHAC he had worked for a pharmaceutical company for two years before switching to NGOs that dealt with HIV/AIDS in Battambang province.
For reproductive health education, it is not easy for himself and his team to educate the youth. Young women are particularly difficult to teach because they are often shy about joining the program.
“When I first educated them they were too shy and did not want to participate, so later on we designated the commune chief to help us select a girl and a boy who were the most popular in the commune to persuade their friends to join”.
After each workshop was completed, they would evaluate sections and most of the time the results successfully fulfilled the objectives.
He has observed that the most serious problems in the field of youth health are the use of illicit drugs and abortion. Abortion has raised concern for him on reproductive health.
“Unplanned pregnancy is one of the main topics we have tried to educate the youth on,” he said, adding that young females often try taking drugs to induce an abortion or have unsafe medical procedures.
RHAC has provided consultation on reproductive health services that promise to keep all the information confidential. “There used to be this case while we were doing the workshop with the youth, one of the girls was scared because she had practised unsafe sex. So later on she had come to us because she gained the trust needed to talk to us.
“We has this service to provide ‘Prevention of unwanted pregnancies’ when a female has had sexual intercourse without protection within 72 hours, in that case we would help them to prevent pregnancies”.
However, such an abortion occurs before the woman shows any signs of being pregnant, but after she has sexual intercourse. He added that for the young females who become pregnant after 72 hours, they still have many options to choose from.
Sok San said that he wants to suggest to young people not to have sexual intercourse while they are still in school when they do not have the economic means to take responsibility. Also, do not hang out with bad friends who would influence you to use illicit drugs or alcohol, which often can lead to premarital sex afterwards and bring about more issues. RHAC does not provide the service of abortion.
In the future Sok San said he wants to continue doing community service work that does not just focus on reproductive health, adding that he wants to contribute to child welfare.