Sexual and Reproductive Health

Sexual and Reproductive Policies

A wide range of international and regional commitments and agreements exist that explicitly recognize the rights of adolescents and young people in accessing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services. However, these treaties that establish standards for human rights are very broad. Evidence shows that many of these commitments remain unrealized due to policy gaps, lack of adequate budgets or monitoring structures in place, among other issues. Often times, the adoption is slow and implementation is not systematic or harmonized.

Challenges in Health Services

Contraceptive access, use and availability are generally low in the region. Many young people who need contraceptives are not using them and/or some use them inconsistently or incorrectly. Health risks for adolescent pregnancy are high and include higher rates of maternal mortality. Despite restrictive laws on termination of pregnancy in the region, a large number of young women are none-the-less accessing abortion services. Often, these are unsafe and result in lifelong health complications or even death. In addition, young people living with HIV face a number of additional challenges, such as access to HIV treatment, breaches to confidentiality and stigma and discrimination. Their rights to access to education and employment may also go unrecognized.



In order to fully exercise the right to health, including sexual reproductive health (SRH), adolescents and young people must have effective, affordable and acceptable access to a range of services. Some key interventions include services related to pregnancy, HIV and STI prevention, testing and treatment:

  • Modern contraception (female and male condoms, hormonal contraception such as pills or injectables, implants, intrauterine devices (IUD) and diaphragms);
  • Abortion (where legal);
  • Post-abortion care;
  • Pregnancy advice and care;
  • Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV;
  • Safe delivery and post-partum care;
  • Voluntary medical male circumcision;
  • Diagnostic testing and treatment for STIs; and
  • Confidential testing, care and counseling for HIV.



Wonderful to have young reporters asking their questions to our high level panelists today at @UNESCO #UNESCO dialogue hosted by South Africa's Dept of Basic #Education on scaling up #comprehensivesexualityeducation #CSE #CSENOW #YouthSRHNow Children's Radio Foundation #SaveTheChildren

[Photos by Czerina Patel]

Unesco Regional Office for Southern Africa
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Group photo of some following today's UNESCO High Level Policy Dialogue on #comprehensivesexualityeducation hosted by the Department of Basic Education in South Africa ! #ESACommitment #YouthSRHNow #CSENow #sexualityeducation #knowledgeispower

[Photos by Czerina Patel]
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‪#UNESCO Regional Director of #EastAfrica Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta & #Sweden Education Minister Gustav #Fridolin on SAFMNews Channel 404 this morning talking about the urgent need for govts to commit to #comprehensivesexualityeducation #CSE #CSENow #YouthSRHNow‬

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