On the occasion of an International Congress in Ecuador, Dr Marleen Temmerman is invited to provide an overview of key sexual and reproductive health issues facing adolescents today and speaks of the vital importance of good quality research in ensuring that their health is both safeguarded and promoted in the future.
While physical, psychological and social development extends from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood, there is growing recognition that early adolescence (10-14 years) is an especially crucial phase. There is also widespread recognition that early adolescence has been/is being neglected both in research and in action.
When national Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health strategies are not implemented effectively, adolescents and young people are unable to obtain the sexuality and reproductive health education they need in their schools and communities, and sexual and reproductive health services they need from health facilities in their communities. The result is unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and STIs including HIV infection.
An estimated 16 million births occur to young women aged 15-19 years, and 1 million births occur to girls aged 10-14. For some of these girls and young women, pregnancy and childbirth are planned and wanted, but for many others they are not.