A review of interventions addressing structural drivers of adolescents' sexual and reproductive health vulnerability in sub-Saharan Africa: implications for sexual health programming

Literature Reviews
15 p.
Periodical title
Reproductive Health 2014, 11:88

Background: Young people particularly women are at increased risk of undesirable sexual and reproductive health (SRH) outcomes. Structural factors have been reported as driving some of these risks. Although several interventions have targeted some of the structural drivers for adolescent’s SRH risk, little has been done to consolidate such work. This would provide a platform for coordinated efforts towards adolescent’s SRH. We provide a narrative summary of interventions in sub-Saharan Africa (sSA) addressing the structural drivers of adolescents’ SRH risk, explore pathways of influence, and highlight areas for further work. Methods: 33 abstracts and summary reports were retrieved and perused for suitability. Fifteen documents met the inclusion criteria and were read in full. Papers and reports were manually reviewed and 15 interventions that met the criteria for inclusion were summarised in a table format. Results: Most of the interventions addressed multiple structural factors, such as social norms, gender inequality, and poverty. Some interventions focused on reducing economic drivers that increased sexual risk behaviours. Others focused on changing social norms and thus sexual risk behaviours through communication. Social norms addressed included gender inequality, gender violence, and child socialisation. The interventions included components on comprehensive sexuality and behaviour change and communication and parenting, using different designs and evaluation methods. Important lessons from the narrative summary included the need for a flexible intervention design when addressing adolescents, the need for coordinated effort among different stakeholders. Conclusion: There are encouraging efforts towards addressing structural drivers among adolescents in (sSA). There is, however, a need for interventions to have a clear focus, indicate the pathways of influence, and have a rigorous evaluation strategy assessing how they work to reduce vulnerability to HIV. There is also a need for coordinated effort among stakeholders working on adolescent vulnerability in sSA.

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