YHP Brazil

About the programme

The Programme, recently completed in 2015, took place in five municipalities in the State of Maranhão in Brazil. Over 40% of the population are under the age of 19 and its poverty rates are the highest in the national Human Development Index. Maranhão has the second highest ranking of child labour, with 240,000 children and adolescents working in the streets.

The Young Health Programme in Brazil was focused on educating young people on sexual and reproductive health, the prevention of non- communicable disease (NCD) behaviours, including tobacco use and alcohol abuse, and broader health issues.

The Programme was implemented by Plan Brazil in partnership with Promundo.

What did we want to achieve through the Programme?

The Programme aimed to reach an estimated 60,000 adolescents in the five municipalities over five years. It also aimed to indirectly influence a population of over 115,000 including policy makers, educators, health professionals and communities where these adolescents live.


  • To inform, engage and empower adolescents on health, with a primary focus on gender and sexual reproductive health and rights. 
  • To influence public policy, engage with key decision makers, and increase public awareness of adolescent health issues. 
  • To strengthen the existing delivery of health and education services to provide improved quality and access to adolescents.

Key issues for adolescent health include increased HIV cases in younger populations, high rates of unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion and increased sexual coercion. Other significant health issues include sexual violence, substance abuse, malnutrition and NCD-related deaths.

What activities took place locally?

Overall the YHP set out to improve the health choices of adolescents within the identified areas with considerable focus placed on driving change through the young people themselves. The Programme targeted adolescents (between 10 - 24 years), their families and communities. Some of the local activities included:

  • Training adolescents to become opinion leaders who engage and inform their peers on their rights in terms of health issues. Topics discussed in the Peer Education programme included gender, sexual and reproductive health, sexual diversity, pregnancy and drugs.
  • Promoting adolescent participation in public policy campaigns to improve services.
  • Ensuring sustainability of initiatives by executing the Programme in very close collaboration with the schools who will ultimately own the project. The Programme also engaged various stakeholders including parents, Community Health Agents and health service providers to ensure community support and engagement.

What has been achieved?

  • A total of 724,585 people have been reached: 93,427 young people reached directly, either as Peer Educators or through outreach activities and 631,178 people reached in the wider community through awareness raising activities and mass media campaigns.
  • Partnerships with 20 schools facilitating Programme outreach and enhanced collaboration between the YHP and the government - run Health in School Programme.
  • 395 Peer Educators trained.
  • 431 parents participated in debates and discussions relating to adolescent health ensuring support and understanding is broadened and the important role parents have to play is recognised.
  • Partnership with the Technical School of the National Health System to train Community Health Agents (CHAs) across the State about adolescent health. 793 trained over five years. The training sensitised CHAs about the specific health issues affecting adolescent girls and boys, and they are increasingly delivering adolescent friendly activities in their communities.
  • Numerous public campaigns have been carried out on specific issues relevant to adolescent health involving media, young people, schools, wider community members and government , for example World Aids Day, International Women's Day. On the ground campaign activities were supported by radio spots and news articles appropriate to the day. Plus YHP successfully launched its own campaign, Adolescent Health Week, in collaboration with government stakeholders and other organisations.
  • YHP Brazil successfully worked with the State Department of Health to advocate for changes to the state level guidance on health (PTA) to incorporate gaps relating to gender, sexual and reproductive health and youth participation issues. The PTA has been revised for the whole state of Maranhão.
  • YHP Brazil has been recognised for its expertise on adolescent health with the methodology of the Programme now sought by Government to be included in relevant planning forums.

Local partner

The Programme was delivered on the ground by Plan Brazil in partnership with Promundo.

Promundo is a Brazilian non-governmental organisation (NGO) that promotes gender equality and seeks to end violence against women, children and youth.