Adolescent reproductive health; knowledge and practices in Ejisu-Juaben

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Good reproductive health is vital to the prospects of the individual as well as the community. With accurate information, an adolescent can complete her education, a couple can choose the size of their family and a community can prevent outbreaks of sexually transmitted diseases. The objective of the research was to find out adolescent knowledge and practices on their reproductive health in Ejisu-Juaben district. The study had a current cross-sectional descriptive design, which utilized both quantitative and qualitative methods to assess adolescent reproductive health; knowledge and practices among in school and out-of school adolescents in Ejisu-Juaben District. Focus Group Discussions (FGDS) were conducted within the study area from mid June to mid August 2005. Information collected was transcribed and used to develop a structured questionnaire comprising both open and close-ended questions which were used to conduct person —to-person interviews. In all, 256 adolescents (15-24 years) took part in the interviews and FGDs. It was found that 74% of in-school respondents and 65% out -of -school adolescents had lapses in understanding sexuality. Nearly all respondents 83% stated poverty as one of the causes of adolescent pregnancy. The prevalence of abortion as stated by in-school and out-of-school adolescents were the same; 53% in both cases. Adolescents had a fairly good knowledge about the existence of STIs. Almost all, 95% in school and 83% out-of school adolescents had heard of at least one STI, the most common infections mentioned were HIV/AIDS (84%) and gonorrhea (65%) correspondingly. In adding up the percentages of both groups, the main sources of information mentioned were the mass media (65%) and peer discussion (5 8%) respectively. Three percent (3%) of in-school adolescents indicated they have ever been treated for STI, 2 % was at the hospital and 1% was by self-medication. In out-of-school respondents 9% claimed they were treated of an STI. Five percent had treatment at the hospital, 1% was by an herbalist, 2% at a drug store and the remaining 1% by self- medication. Virtually all respondents’ 48% in- school, 34% out-of-school adolescents knew the condom as a contraceptive method. Contraceptive usage among in-school adolescents was 45% for users while among out- of-school respondents contraceptive users were only 23%. The condom was the most frequently used contraceptive method mentioned by in-school and out-of-school respondents. Knowledge on where to obtain contraceptives was very high 84% and 96% was indicated for in-school out-of-school adolescents respectively. Pharmacy shops were regular places for the purchase of contraceptives, in-school adolescents recorded 36% and out-of-school adolescents recorded 47%. Also mentioned were the hospitals, which had 27% among in- school adolescents and as low as 6% in out-of school-adolescent respondents. The study concluded that sexual health knowledge and practices among in- school adolescent respondents was fairly good. However, there is the need to intensify education especially among out-of-school adolescents.
A dissertation submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfilment of the award of Master of Public Population and Reproductive Health, 2005