What you need to know:
- Many young people suffer barriers in accessing youth-friendly SRHR, hindering their ability to make safe decisions regarding their sexuality.
- Lack of qualified personnel and privacy, and unfriendly or judgmental staff, discourage them from seeking services such as contraception.
Adolescents and young people aged 10-24 constitute 36 per cent of Kenya’s population. The former, age 10-19, make 25.9 per cent of the population.
Nonetheless, with only 12 per cent of the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services being “youth-friendly”, they experience some of the poorest reproductive health outcomes. Addressing this need requires policy and legal framework and the safety of communities, gatekeepers and the leaders .
Many young people suffer barriers in accessing youth-friendly SRHR, hindering their ability to make safe decisions regarding their sexuality. Lack of qualified personnel and privacy, and unfriendly or judgmental staff, discourage them from seeking services such as contraception.
“Kenya Demographic Health Survey KDHS 2014” data show one in five teenage girls aged 15-19 has begun child-bearing. Contraceptive prevalence is 49 per cent for sexually active unmarried girls aged 15-19 and 64 per cent for 20-24.
Risky sexual behaviour
The “Population Reference Bureau ASRH Kenya Status Update” shows fewer than half of pregnant adolescents attend four antenatal visits or deliver in a health facility .
Young people are denied information on growth, sexuality and contraceptives, leading to risky sexual behaviour that results in unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and diseases, HIV and unsafe abortions. If adolescents do not find services relevant and attractive, they may turn to risky options such as buying drugs over the counter.
Many pregnant and nursing adolescents shy away from seeking health services due to the negative perception society attaches to contraception by young people. Teenage girls get advice from their peers and that easily leads to misinformation.
Service providers’ should undergo value clarification and attitudinal transformation to provide quality adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) services, an essential pillar to tacking the needs of adolescents and young people.
Ms Nthiana is a youth advocate at Naya Kenya. [email protected]