Supporting adolescents to access integrated sexual and reproductive health services
Adolescent girls are twice as likely to have an unmet need for contraception and are at higher risk of unintended pregnancy. Latest evidence shows that 23 million girls aged 15 to 19 years in developing regions have an unmet need for modern contraception, and as a result, half of pregnancies among this group are estimated to be unintended. Pregnancy puts adolescent girls at higher risk of morbidity and mortality; complications in pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for this age group globally.
Where girls do seek an abortion, social, legal or economic barriers result in girls resorting to unsafe methods of abortion and unable to access post-abortion contraception. In addition, we know that for many girls, their pathway is fraught with misinformation, fear and stigma. Services and information are often not tailored to girls’ specific needs. This year, 3.9 million girls in developing countries will have an unsafe abortion – more than 10,600 every day. This leads to avoidable deaths and injury; the WHO estimates that 10,000 teenage girls will die each year, and for every death, 15 will suffer life-changing injuries.
‘Supporting Access for Adolescents to Integrated Sexual and Reproductive Health Services’ (Safire) is an innovative programme seeking to dramatically reduce deaths and injury from unsafe abortions among girls in some of the countries with the highest burden in Sub-Saharan Africa. Options is leading the programme consortium, including Kisumu Medical and Education Trust (KMET) and Marie Stopes International. We are working with local Community Based Organisations (CBOs), leading technical experts, and social marketing organisations to destigmatise and support girls’ choices to reduce unsafe abortion.
Taking a Human Centred Design approach, we are using in-depth research and analysis to develop solutions to enable girls’ access to quality and confidential reproductive health services. Over the course of this four-year programme, Safire will:
- Increase access to affordable, and high-quality reproductive health services that are designed with girls.
- Strengthen referral networks, working with CBOs so that girls have improved to access integrated services.
- Foster and support a movement that shifts control to girls themselves, with more supportive community norms for responding to their reproductive health needs
- Leverage ICT platforms and interpersonal networks to improve access to services and information
- Prioritise local solutions to reduce unsafe abortions and support pathways to high-quality and safe care.
- Generate research and insights to strength efforts and interventions targeting girls for benefit of the wider reproductive health sector.
23 million girls aged 15 to 19 years in developing regions have an unmet need for modern contraception
WHO estimates that 10,000 teenage girls will die each year from unsafe abortion