Adolescent Sexual and
Reproductive Health (ASRH)

A History of ASRH Research at AMREF-Kenya
by Isabella Chege

In 1987, the Kenyan government hosted the launch of the International Safe Motherhood Initiative and endorsed the Plan of Action to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. This coincided with a period, between the mid-1970s and 1980s, in which Kenya experienced fertility and growth rates reported to be the highest in the world -- 3.8-4.1 and 8.1 respectively. Adolescents were among those most affected by both factors.

 The need for a multisectoral approach to addressing ASRH concerns was realized. A group of health practitioners, social scientists, educators, and lawyers as well as represenatives from government, local universities, NGOs and the donor community met in Mombasa in 1988 to discuss strategies for addressing adolescent sexual and reproductive health issues. Another meeting followed in Nairobi. All available research was summarized and used to advocate both for more attention to ASHR and to the need for further research.

A research agenda was the main priority in order to gather data to support advocacy and lobbying. An AMREF representative was part of this group. SIDA-Sweden was among the donors that supported these activities through the Population Council, New York and Nairobi.

One of the research projects funded was the AMREF Female Adolescent Health and Sexuality Study in Kenyan Secondary Schools by Okumu and Chege. Other research studies focused on abortion and related problems. The results of the AMREF survey were presented in Safari Park, Nairobi in February, 1994. It became a well-recognized reference on ASRH with 800 copies distributed. Other papers were disseminated in various local and international scientific conferences and several were published as reports or journal articles.

Prior to this, there were no AMREF-Kenya activities exclusive to ASRH, although youth in general were targeted in the few school health and community-based activities.

SIDA-Sweden currently sponsors regional ASRH projects in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

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