Child and adolescent health and development

Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health

Adolescents are likely to face a range of health and social challenges. For instance, initiation of sexual activity while they lack adequate knowledge and skills for protection places adolescents at a higher risk of unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion and sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS. High prevalence of early marriage and childbearing in some of the Member States, is associated with higher maternal mortality and morbidity as well as neonatal and infant mortality in adolescents.

Furthermore, pregnancy during adolescence is associated with higher risk of health problems like anemia, sexually transmitted infections, unsafe abortion, postpartum hemorrhage, and mental disorders (like depression). Pregnant adolescents also bear negative social consequences and often have to leave school reducing their employability leading to long-term economic implications. Unmet needs for family planning especially for spacing are high among adolescents.

WHO promotes Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health to meeet these challenges and provides technical support to Member States in strengthening and improving health care system for providing Adolescent Friedly Health Services.

For many adolescents who need sexual and reproductive health services, such as appropriate information, contraception and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, these are either not available or are provided in a way that makes adolescents feel unwelcome and embarrassed. Health services have to be sensitive to the needs and developmental attributes of adolescents to be able to attract them. WHO promotes Adolescent Friendly Health Services to address these issues and make it easier for adolescents to obtain the required services.