Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive health (ASRH) is a very important subject that needs to be address differently from the normal Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH). The main reason being that adolescent are exposed to greater risk that come with sex and the possible negatives consequences afterwards.
Even though most adolescents are now getting a lot of information concerning sex, how to protect themselves from the sexually transmitted diseases or unplanned for pregnancies, they do not adhere to this knowledge (Schutt-Aine & Maddaleno 35).
A substantial number of adolescents till engage in unprotected sex, sex outside marriage and sex with stranger hence exposing them more to the risks. Besides, the adolescents have been observed to pay less attention to the reproductive health education, modes of transmission of HIV/AIDS and protection.
Besides, many youths hold irrational myths towards pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease (Schutt-Aine & Maddaleno 35). Consequently, the numbers of unsafe abortions among the youths has increased and other consequences like complications during pregnancy or childbirth. All these come because of inadequate education about reproductive health. These factors are causing more deaths among the youths.
The vulnerability that exist in young people because they are not prepared for the pregnancy, they do not have access to contraceptives, and risk of contracting STI because of unprotected sex always has a negative impact on their welfare. The position is worsened because ASRH is not one of government priorities in healthcare policy.
Because of inattention, adolescent have insufficient sexual education, therefore they do not know where to seek assistance or shy away because they are underage (Schutt-Aine & Maddaleno 37). They end up suffering consequences of STIs, dropping out of school, engaging in speedy marriages, some in unsafe abortions and more significantly the stress or psychological suffering.
ASRH Should be Given High Priority
With improved general healthcare systems in the developed nations, some pertinent factors of health have come to be very important in development of sexual and reproductive health. There is early sexual maturity among young people, there is increased emphasis on attaining good education before marriage and consequently late marriages have increased (Lauglo 6). This therefore has made adolescence a very unique stage in life.
Most health program have previously considered the adolescents to be the most healthy group hence given more attention to children and older people when it comes to healthcare plans. It’s this kind of overlooking the health needs of adolescents that bring more problems in the group. It is important to note that adolescent have become central to social problems like unplanned pregnancies, abortions, STI’s and more importantly the HIV/AIDS pandemic (Lauglo 8). It’s on these grounds that ASRH should be given high priority and careful attention.
Most of the behaviour that adolescents develop during that period could have life-long implications. For instance, early parenthood, aggression and risk conduct, health seeking behaviour and STDs have to be dealt with at this point in life under ASRH programs (Lauglo 8).
Human Rights Approach to ASRH
The human rights and gender model of dealing with the sexual and reproductive health is effective in making sure that the right of adolescents are protected in the government policies and practice (ILM advocates 9).
Many nations are signatories to the convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women this makes them to consider the human rights for young women and adolescents in high regard. Besides, many of tem are also in support of the convention of the rights of children and this makes then address right of adolescents more explicitly (Lauglo 22).
There are a number of instruments that are used to protect young people and uphold their rights; they include “American convention on Human rights” and the “declaration of right and duties of man”. Though these documents, the implementers of the ASRH have drawn important insights incorporating them into their programs (Lauglo 22). Some of the important aspects covered include social factors, cultural right, alleviation of violence against women and economic rights.
Compliance has been made mandatory because these are basic inalienable human rights (ILM advocates 9). There are consequently threshold standards of implementation, means of accountability, and reporting noncompliance; important issues against ASRH Include;
Discrimination against adolescents access to information and services due to age
Discrimination of marginalized groups like school drop-outs, poor children (Lauglo 23), migrants and street children in accessing services and information because they have poor connection with the society
Stigmatization and discrimination of pregnant adolescents, Young people living with AIDS and substance abusers access to services (Lauglo 23),
Non-consensual intercourse, Unsafe abortions that can cause Maternal mortality
The discourse around sexual and reproductive health and consequent right draw insight from women’s health and human right embedded in global declaration, conventions and covenant.
Examples Where a Human Rights Approach to ASRH Has Helped In Reaching Adolescents
In the US, the concerns of ASRH are being address systematically, consistently and more habitually than ever before. Because of the increased advocacy to adhere to human rights doctrine, the ASRH is now a major element on the policies of health especially the SRH (Breinhauer & Maddaleno 24).
The rights of young people are increasingly being emphasizes and safeguarded. This new changes are able to reach the adolescents in that the payment systems in health cover SRH services for all family members. This means that anyone can access emergency contraceptives, counselling and testing services, referral delivery and even post abortion care (Breinhauer & Maddaleno 24).
In the Caribbean region, AIDS is among the top five causes of death of young people and many of these infected are in the 15-24 age group. Besides, statistics show that one individual out of 20 is infected with STI. Unplanned pregnancies remain a major problem among the youths as about 25% of young women are mother by the time they get 20 year (Salas 13).
Human right approach has been able to identify vulnerable people and increasing access to information because there are increased sexual and reproductive health programs. These centres also promote cultural norms and social support.
In Latin American human rights approach has defined poor and vulnerable people and to reach many youths, the ASRH have specifically targeted the street children, school drop-outs, unemployed youths and those from the minority groups and drug users (Salas 13).
Breinhauer, Richard and Maddaleno Matilde. Youth: choices and changes; promoting healthy behaviours in adolescents. Washington, DC: Pan American Health Organization, 2005. Print.
ILM advocates. Analysis of Existing Laws and Policies That Impact on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH). UNFPA/AYA. 2003
Lauglo, Marilyn. Adolescent and Youth Sexual Reproductive Health- Opportunities, Approaches and Choices, Washington DC: Pan American Health Organization, 2008. Print.
Salas, Dominics. Preventing HIV/STIs among adolescents of Latin America and the Caribbean: current situation and recommendations for moving forward. Washington, DC: Pan American Health Organization, 2007. Print.
Schutt-Aine Jessie, and Maddaleno, Matilde. Sexual health and development of adolescent and youth in the Americas: program and policy implications. Washington, DC: Pan American Health Organization, 2003. Print.