More than a quarter of the world’s population is between the ages of 10 and 24, with 86% living in less developed countries. These young people are tomorrow’s parents. The reproductive and sexual health decisions they make today will affect the health and wellbeing of their communities and of their countries for decades to come.

In particular, three issues have a profound impact on young people’s sexual health and reproductive lives: unwanted sex, early marriage and HIV/AIDS. Teenage girls are more likely to die from pregnancy-related health complications than older women in their 20s. Statistics indicate that one-half of all new HIV infections worldwide occur among young people aged 15 to 24.

Despite their numbers, adolescents have not traditionally been considered a health priority in many countries, including Uganda. While the country has been implementing major interventions to reduce child mortality and morbidity, interventions addressing the health needs of young people have been limited. Young people often have less access to information, services and resources than those who are older. Health services are rarely designed specifically to meet their needs and health workers only occasionally receive specialist training in issues pertinent to adolescent sexual health. It is perhaps not surprising therefore that there are particularly low levels of health-seeking behaviour among young people. Similarly, young people in a variety of contexts have reported that access to contraception and condoms is difficult.

The negative health consequences of adolescents can pass from one generation to the next. For example, babies born to adolescent mothers have a high risk of being underweight or stillborn. They are also likely to suffer from the same social and economic disadvantages encountered by their mothers. That is why addressing the needs of adolescents is an intergenerational investment with huge benefits to subsequent generations.

Inspire youth For Development is supplementing the efforts of the government of Uganda and other health partners in health to increase access to sexual reproduction rights to young people especially young women through various initiatives.

Young people are the future of societies and their needs should be addressed in order to have healthy and productive citizens.

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