- Promoting Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health in East and Southern Africa
In 2006 the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that "in many parts of the world the sexual and reproductive needs of adolescents are either poorly understood or not fully appreciated, [and] evidence is growing that this neglect can seriously jeopardize the health and well-being of young people." ("Promoting and Safeguarding the Sexual and Reproductive Health of Adolescents": http://who.int/child-adolescent-health.) Such an assertion is not only stated as a fact, but is also a call for more research for better understanding of the health issues encountered by adolescents: it asks researchers, social activists, and policymakers to participate in breaking the silence about issues that affect our youth, the leaders of tomorrow. It is important to remember that several significant factors such as culture, country of origin, language, and sociopolitical background need [End Page 210] to be taken into consideration when addressing this topic, although these elements were not clearly defined in this work. But the book is a unique attempt to advance the consciousness and promote the discussion of adolescent sexual and reproductive health, essentially by pointing out the current lack of communication among the social, political, biomedical, and policymaking fields. More important, the writers do not stop at identifying problems: they propose ways to bridge the gap between these fields in order to build partnerships through collaborative research and a participatory approach.
The authors present new perspectives and strategies to promote adolescent sexual and reproductive health: namely through dissemination of empirical evidence from existing programs and careful analysis of what works and what does not at the local, regional, and international levels. Divided into four parts, the book surveys, analyzes and makes recommendations in the areas of ethics, culture, public policy, HIV/AIDS programs, reproductive rights of women, and peer education.
The focus of the book is on East and southern Africa, but the scope of the work goes well beyond those borders. Its underlying argument—that education about sexual and reproductive health should be started early enough so that young people have as much information as possible when they reach adulthood—is itself indicative of the book's usefulness. The authors go several steps further and propose ways in which sub-Saharan Africa can reach the goal of educating its youth, from evidence-based intervention programs to the use of public policy, via school-based HIV/AIDS programs, with consideration for ethics and culture.
The book is suitable for an academic audience and could also be used in field training sessions and by NGOs to build even stronger partnerships.