Addressing adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights through a multisectoral public program
Presentation at the 2nd Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights, Nairobi, 19-21 June
Evelia,Humphres; Askew,Ian; Muthuuri,Eva
Publication date: 2006
Background and Objectives
This paper outlines a public-sector program highlighting the unique experiences and opportunities of a multisectoral approach in fostering ASRH and rights. It draws on the experience of the Kenya Adolescent Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS Prevention Project (KARHP) implemented in Vihiga and Busia districts of Western Province since 1999. Funded by USAID, the pilot project was implemented by the Population Council and the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) in collaboration with three government ministries, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Gender, Sports, Culture, and Social Services. The project developed and pilot tested innovative approaches for public-sector authorities to work with adolescents, their parents, teachers, community leaders, and health workers in providing sexual and reproductive health information and skills. It sought to establish the viability and effectiveness of the approaches to increase ASRH knowledge, rights, and health service uptake among in- and out-of-school adolescents aged 10-19 years. The successful implementation of the pilot project generated interest among partners and the beneficiaries leading to its expansion in the two original districts in 2003 and eventually its scaling up into eight districts of Western Province in 2005.
The pilot project showed that multisectoral approaches are feasible and effective in achieving positive sexual and reproductive health (SRH) behavior change among adolescents. SRH education provided through a life-skill manual increased knowledge, consciousness, and communication of adolescent sexual and reproductive health rights. Endline survey findings showed increased levels of delayed onset of sexual activity, reduced number of sexual partners, reduced incidence of sexual violence, reduced levels of unplanned pregnancies especially among in-school youth and the related dropout rates due to pregnancy, and reduced STI infection rates and safer sexual practices. Parent-to-child discussion on SRH improved, and communities became very receptive to information and dialogue about ASRH, creating a large constituency for the program.
Multisectoral programs play a crucial role in providing appropriate SRH information and services for the majority of adolescents. They provide feasible opportunities for promoting sexual and reproductive health rights among young people while creating a wider supportive environment. They also provide the best avenues for reaching the vast majority of young people with ASRH information and services for shaping positive sexual and reproductive health behavioral attributes. Providing leadership through partnerships encourages ownership and increases effective utilization of experiences and sustainability of ASRH and HIV and AIDS programs through the public sector.