Aga Khan University addresses health issues among youth in Kenya’s coastal region


 Political goodwill and health advocacy programs have proven successful in reducing the number of teenage pregnancies in Kenya’s coastal region. This emerged at the Adolescent and Youth Health and Wellbeing Symposium in Kenya’s Kwale County organized by the Aga Khan University.

According to the Ministry of Health, there has been a decline in cases of teenage pregnancy in Kenya – from 404, 763 cases in 2018 to 326,072 as at October 2019. This holds promise for the girls at the Coast, which has been known to have the highest prevalence of teenage pregnancies in the country.

“We have since a drop in the number of teenage pregnancies in Kilifi County following intense engagements with youth at sub-county and ward levels through targeted social and medical campaigns. This follows the launch of a youth-led strategic plan on sexual and reproductive health that was launched in April. This has also enlisted political will and support from the county Governor,” said Dr Anisa Omar, CEC Health, Kilifi County.

“Tana River County currently has a desk with two full-time staff to address issues on adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health and rights,” said Hon. Mwanajuma Hiribae, CEC Health Tana River County, “we are also in the process of reviving the Gender-Based Violence Recovery Centre that was started by one of our development partners a few years ago.”

Kenya’s youth constitute more than half of the population hence the need for interventions to enhance their health now and in adulthood. Prof Marleen Temmerman, Director of the Centre for Excellence in Women and Child Health, Aga Khan University said the symposium would bring provide a platform for stakeholders to provide evidence-based strategies, practices and policies.

“We need to move from paper to action! At the end of these two days we hope to get commitments from county governments as well as development partners and stakeholders to implement the policies and strategies on adolescent and youth health,” Prof Temmerman said.

“In delivering the mandate, His Highness has long recognized that poverty, quality of life, indeed health and wellbeing are multi-faceted and addressing them requires multiple interventions – there is no magic bullet!” said Dr Azim Lakhani, Diplomatic Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network.

The symposium is a joint initiative by the Aga Khan University (AKU) International Centre for Reproductive Health (ICRH), and coastal County Governments.

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