THE Talk is an educational project about sexual and reproductive health launched by CroMSIC (Croatian Medical Students’ International Committee) in the Standing Committee on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights including HIV and AIDS (SCORA) with the assistance from the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ).
It refers to some of the topics that parents and teachers should traditionally „go through“ with teenagers and adolescents, which is why we named it like this. We believe that it is necessary to educate young population about all the ways of protecting sexual health, but also about the biology of our reproductive system, its structure, protection and offspring planning. The key to a complete picture of human sexuality and reproductive power is conversation – THE conversation! We hope that this project will bring young people closer to the most important elements of protecting themselves first and then the others.
SCORA, Standing Committee on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights including HIV and AIDS, engages in volunteer work and education each year for the medical and general population on many important health topics in their area. This includes education on sexually transmitted diseases and reproductive health, as well as, contraception in high schools and universities. Last year, we focused on popularizing the HPV vaccine and all the benefits of it. Starting this year, we named the education project THE Talk, refined the materials in collaboration with the HZJZ, and requested official permission from the Ministry of Health in order to expand it. The Corona virus slowed down our plans, a bit, but it did not destroy them! Moreover, we are dedicated to mark important dates in healthcare and raising awareness of various diseases, as well as, their prevention. As future physicians, we feel a great deal of social responsibility on all health topics and do everything in the power of a student volunteer organization to improve the knowledge and health of our fellow citizens.
Who will benefit most from a project like this?
Project THE Talk is designed to educate a vulnerable population of teenagers and adolescents, from 15 to 24 years of age, targeting high school and university audience, who are in the process of their first experiences of sexual intercourse and the process of developing into a complete person. Of course, anyone who does not feel educated enough about this topic is more than welcome!
You know that our association has four subsidiaries: Rijeka, Split, Zagreb and Osijek. These are the four cities where this training is conducted (except through this CroMSIC website, available to all). Together we are stronger and louder, therefore, under the guidance of our national officer, and with the great help of the Osijek team, we equalized high school education on sexual and reproductive health in all four cities, dividing it into two presentations – Sexually Transmitted Infections – Risks and Protection and Reproductive Health (human development, contraception, and HPV), along with two descriptions of activities for educators (see the bottom of the page for presentations). It is conducted in secondary schools in duration of 90 minutes – the first presentation, Sexually Transmitted Infections – Risks and Protection, is recommended to the first year high school students, whereas the second one, Reproductive Health, is recommended to the second graders in high school. *Presenting educational resources this way is a well-intentioned tip that should not be strictly adhered to if there are no possibilities to carry out education in an identical manner. Student education is conducted in a somewhat more relaxed manner and involves more practical knowledge other than theoretical background. We are currently working on applying for funding means to broaden both our high school and our students’ education. We truly hope to expand and popularize this project so that we can reach as many young people as possible.
We reach the schools through cooperation with school’s physicians, other educational organizations in the city, or through simple contact with school’s teachers. We must emphasize the fact that teachers support this action and find it very useful. Please note that the quality of knowledge in this field is very low, even in the older students’ population. Our mission is to bring everyone closer to this inevitable topic that is part of everyone’s life, one way or another. We cooperate with professors, doctors and scientists in many specialties of medicine, because we are in daily contact with them as medical students, and therefore we are able to produce high quality materials based on accurate data.
We would like to point out the following data from Osijek: in the academic year 2019/2020 our committee on sexual and reproductive health educated 120 high school students through the aforementioned two presentations, which is about 2500 students!
We are aware of the time and effort that such a project requires. We are ready to distribute it among our branches by coordination of our national officer.
The importance of a project like this
We will list some basic facts that make it extremely important for such a project to be implemented. Did you know that mucosa of young people is more susceptible to STDs than mucosa of a fully developed human? The importance of education lies precisely in recognizing the risky behaviors and possible symptoms of STDs or possible pregnancy and responding properly and in a timely manner to the situation, protecting your health and that of your partner. It is also clear that the health of our reproductive system is crucial for our fertility and for production of healthy and functional offspring. Therefore, it is important that we behave responsibly towards ourselves and others from the early days. It is important to know the basic structure of our reproductive system, the ways in which unwanted pregnancy can be prevented, and the consequences of having a single sexual intercourse besides pregnancy. In 70% of cases, sexually transmitted diseases do not produce symptoms! This means that an uneducated person can spread the infection without being aware of it. This education aims to educate you to the level of recognizing risky behavior and some general and common symptoms of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, and to learn the principles of protection against them – the principles of sexually responsible behaviour. This will help prevent unwanted pregnancies and preserve your reproductive system. We emphasize that one unprotected sex is enough to acquire a particular disease. Some of these diseases are deadly, such as HIV, some are painful and unpleasant, some result in infertility.
It is crucial for young people to know that girls should visit a gynecologist before their first sexual intercourse and (both boys and girls *!), optimally before the first intercourse, and highly recommended until the age of 26, should be vaccinated against HPV. The importance and proper use of condoms must also be made clear to all.
It is not our goal to intimidate someone, our goal is to present sexual intercourse as something normal that happens between people, but that everyone is held accountable in this.
Try the useful website and application Spolno zdravlje of Croatian Institute of Public Health for a detailed description of certain diseases and much more that may interest you in this field.
On this page you will be able to access our presentations, future information leaflets and other educational content in the field of sexual and reproductive health. This is our contact mail: firstname.lastname@example.org if you need some advice or specific information.
Vision of the project
- to continue our existing efforts
- procurement of educational aids (anatomical dolls, posters, examples of condoms and contraceptive pills, examples of intrauterune devices – a contraceptive tool best recommended for the adolescent girls in the world)
- gifts for participants
- popularization of the project through targeted advertisements on social networks, contact with media, sets of presentations
- going to other places
- creating information leaflets on various important topics in this field
- organizing weekend workshops Education of the Educators/Teambulding
Download our presentations!
Content: Explanation of why we are here and why young people are the most vulnerable population. How can we be infected with certain diseases associated with a particular mode of transmission. What are the most common symptoms and subtle signs of sexually transmitted diseases in general? Images of normal and pathological conditions. Photographs of herpes virus infection, HPV, fungal inflammation, trichomonas, gonorrhea, syphilis are shown. AIDS is described in more detail. Below are tips on how to preserve sexual health and protect yourself from infection, and a slide on HPV vaccine and a general overview of sexually transmitted disease therapy and the testing procedure. There are questions at the end of the presentation.
Content: What is it for and what are the parts of the male and female reproductive system? Reproductive glands, menstrual cycle and clarification of fertile days, uterus and pregnancy, simple description of childbirth, contraception – condoms, contraceptive pills, intrauterine device, vaginal ring, hormonal implant. The following is a more detailed information of HPV infection, with a description of all the diseases this virus causes, the ways in which the infection is transmitted, the (non)existence of symptoms, the consequences, but also the ways of preventing the infection. We place particular emphasis on the vaccine and inform to whom it is available for free and it is strongly recommended. Following part is why is it important to visit a gynecologist regularly and when it is best to do it for the first time, what a gynecological examination looks like, and what a Pap smear is. There are also questions at the end of the presentation.
Do you want to become our volunteer?
The way we have invited and educated volunteers so far (and tend to do so in the future):
Each CroMSIC member uses an application that announces future events, that is, actions that will be organized by each committee. Students of medical faculties and members of our association follow the events and apply within the given deadline. This is followed by a personal agreement or agreement through social networks on the details of meeting and performing activities. The first meeting, for the purpose of educating educators, is in the classrooms of medical faculties (and, hopefully, in the future some sort of teambuilding in the form of weekend workshops). Presentation authors and senior year students – local officers and their assistants, present their presentations and descriptions of activities to the applied volunteers, and instruct them on what is the purpose of the training and on the optimal way of doing it. Warning about time limitation is given and students who have not yet studied some of the topics of educational programme in their classes are referred to in a proper way. Then, in agreement with the school teachers / school physicians /other local educational associations, a plan to go to schools is created. How many schools can be visited depends on the number of volunteers. Students receive exchange points for each class and gain new experience. Many medical students have this conscience of educating the general public about the latest professional medical knowledge and this is one of the reasons why we have existed for many years as an organization. Going to schools is self-contained and currently with no additional educational materials except for condoms that are provided in some of the branches to demonstrate their proper use. We ask our volunteers to take pictures of the education process itself (with just the face of the educator seen in it) as a proof for the general assembly which takes place twice a year, and also as a proof that the education was actually carried out .
See you at education!
SCORA team Croatia