Position: Youth Researcher
Organization: Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan Family Reproductive Health Association
Juliana Ooi is a Youth Researcher with the Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan Family Reproductive Health Association. Her research has focused on identifying the cultural and religious barriers and facilitating factors associated with the uptake of family planning by Rohingya refugees living in Malaysia. For more than a decade, she has served as a comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) peer educator, training youths from different backgrounds, from refugees to asylum seekers to young sex workers.
“Research in family planning is important to support implementation of evidence-based family planning programmes. The nominee has identified cultural and religious factors on use of family planning for the Rohingya refugee community in Malaysia.“
– Davina Isaac, Programme Officer – Youth at International Planned Parenthood Federation (ESEAOR)
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.
Conducted research in the past five years to identify the barriers and facilitating factors from cultural and religious perspectives associated with the uptake of family planning by Rohingya refugees living in Malaysia. The research involved Rohingya men and women in the design of a sexual and reproductive health module aimed to incorporate attitudinal and behavioural aspects relevant to their culture to improve the use of family planning among the community.
Also been involved as a comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) peer educator in the past ten years. Together with my friends, we have trained youths from different backgrounds, including refugees, asylum seekers, young sex workers, transsexuals, as well as the poor, marginalised, socially excluded, and underserved.
What sparked your passion for family planning?
Although the community often assumes that family planning is a women’s issue, I believe family planning is the key to progressing the lives of women and men in Malaysia, irrespective of their socio-economic status, nationality, and legal status; but what sparked my passion for family planning is the people from all walks of life in Malaysia whom I meet, whose lives have improved because their sexual and reproductive health and rights have been taken care of.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your family planning efforts, and what have you done to overcome it?
The biggest challenge faced in our family planning efforts in Malaysia lies in the complexity and intersection of socio-economic status, nationality (including statelessness), and legal status. What I have done to overcome it is to provide a case management approach in addressing the needs of each client to address issues on intersectionality. This process is conducted with the help of an interpreter who is well respected within the community.
What is your (country/region/city)’s biggest challenge in family planning, and how can it be addressed?
The biggest challenge in family planning for underserved communities in Malaysia, such as refugees, asylum seekers, and undocumented migrant workers, is access to health care services due to our country’s legislation and migration policies that do not recognise the rights of refugees and those requiring special protection, as well as increasing health care burden. It has improved throughout the years, but more can be done when more leaders are committed to this cause.
What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?
As we have identified in Phase 1 the barriers and facilitating factors to design and implement an intervention on access to family planning services for Rohingya refugees living in Malaysia, the next five years will be used to establish a community-based structure aimed to sustain the results from this sexual and reproductive health programme. I also plan to upscale comprehensive sexuality education, and ensure that health services are linked, with strong referral services among local NGOs.