Engaging Students to Improve Sexual and Reproductive Health: A Report of the University Leadership for Change Initiative in Niger

Regina Benevides, Katie Chau, Abdoulaye Ousseini, Ibrahim Innocent, Ruth Simmons

Abstract

Few development projects have addressed the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs of university students in West Africa or sought to promote student leadership to extend SRH benefits to others. This report presents results from the Evidence-to-Action Project‘s University Leadership for Change Initiative in Niger which had the goal to begin filling this gap. The Initiative used an innovative behavior change methodology with students at Abdou Moumouni University in Niamey, Niger and subsequently expanded it to three additional universities by applying ExpandNet scale-up approaches. 200 students trained as peer leaders reached almost 8,000 youths with SRH information and counseling, student leaders and university clinic staff distributed nearly 80,000 condoms and the project achieved national policy change through its collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovations. The report concludes with key lessons about the benefits of student engagement and creativity in this effort. (Afr J Reprod Health 2019; 23[1]: 55-64).

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