Challenges and opportunities for improving access to adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health services and information in the coastal counties of Kenya: a qualitative study

Evaline Chepchirchir Langat, Abdu Mohiddin, Flaura Kidere, Anisa Omar, Job Akuno, Violet Naanyu, Marleen Temmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Globally, adolescents and youth experience high unmet need for sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services. In Kenya, evidence shows that more than half of teenage pregnancies are unintended and that half of all new HIV infections occur in people ages 15-24-year-olds, with the majority of those being female. The coastal counties in Kenya record a relatively high adolescent pregnancy rate and higher rates of unmet need for contraception for all women of reproductive age compared to the national average. This study focused on gaining a deeper understanding of the existing challenges to and opportunities for accessing SRH information and services among adolescents and youth (AY) at the Kenyan coast. Methods: Using qualitative methods, this study conducted thirty-six focus group discussions with adolescents, youth, and community health volunteers across all the six coastal counties in Kenya. The sample included adolescents aged 10–14 years in school (male and female), adolescents aged 15–19 years not in education (male and female), youths aged 20–24 years (mix of both male and female), and community health volunteers who were conveniently sampled. Thematic analysis was used to examine the data and report the study results. Results: The barriers to accessing AYSRH identified in the study are individual factors (feelings of shame, lack of information, and fear of being judged) parental factors, healthcare worker and health institution factors, teacher/educators factors, and broader contextual factors such as culture, religion, poverty, and illiteracy. Factors that facilitate access to AYSRH information and services included, supportive parenting and culture, AYSRH sessions in schools, peer support, supportive health institutions, gender inclusivity, and digital technology. Conclusions: AYSRH information and services at the Kenyan coast is strongly influenced by a range of individual, social, cultural, and economic factors. Improving access to AYSHR necessitates meaningful AY engagement, provision of youth-friendly services, use of digital technology as alternative pathways for sharing SRH information, strengthening parent-AY relationships, embracing peer-to-peer support, and the adoption of gender-inclusive approaches in AYSRH programming.

Original languageEnglish
Article number484
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Focus group discussions
  • Kenya
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Youth

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