The Challenge Initiative’s (TCI’s) East Africa team represented TCI at the International Maternal Newborn Health Conference (IMNHC) in Cape Town, South Africa, held May 8-11. The conference was organized by AlignMNH with the maternal and newborn health community to consider global progress towards improving maternal and newborn health.
In a session entitled Adolescent Health: Accelerating Progress towards 2030, TCI gave a presentation on how its efforts to improve adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) services helped reduce teenage pregnancies in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
In East Africa, teenage pregnancy rates surpass the global average of 15% – with Kenya at 18% and both Uganda and Tanzania at 25%. Limited access to AYSRH services is considered a key driver of teenage pregnancy, which is linked to higher occurrences of adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes.
TCI has engaged 60 local governments in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and supported them with coaching on implementing high impact interventions, including those focused on improving AYSRH services. Of those, 38 have graduated from TCI’s direct support. For sustainability, TCI’s approach is designed to encourage local ownership of family planning/AYSRH programs and continued resource allocation for program activities after TCI support has ended.
As for AYSRH, the following are among the key activities conducted by local governments in East Africa with TCI support:
- Service delivery for youths and adolescents in the community, such as providing services through pharmacies and drug shops
- Increasing the number of adolescent and youth-friendly health facilities
- Providing adolescents with correct and accurate SRH information through social and behavior change activities
- Improving age-disaggregated data visibility and use to more accurately represent adolescent and youth and identify issues to be addressed
TCI successfully advocated with local governments to prioritize AYSRH and make total domestic resource commitments of USD $1.4 million (Kenya $544,510, Uganda $388,161, Tanzania $473,712) towards financing AYSRH high-impact interventions. It also successfully integrated adolescent and youth-friendly services in 341 public health facilities. But the most notable achievement was a reduction in teen pregnancy rates in TCI-supported geographies by an average of 23% (Kenya, 30%, Uganda, 12% and Tanzania 24%).
The presentation concluded by saying local governments are capable of committing their own resources to implement impactful AYSRH programs that address the urgent need to combat rising teenage pregnancy rates.