What can be done about adolescent pregnancy in South Sudan?
Introduction: The World Health Organization (WHO) defines ‘adolescents’ as individuals aged 10-19 years. The national family planning policy of South Sudan states that “by the age of 19, one out of three girls is already married or in union; and the same proportion has already started childbearing”. The causes of adolescent pregnancy can be attributed to social, cultural, political and health systems gaps.
Objective: This review article looks at the contributory factors for adolescent pregnancy in South Sudan, the effects of these pregnancies and describes some solutions and recommendations.
Method: A direct search was conducted in Google scholar and other search engines looking at titles such as teenage/adolescent pregnancy in South Sudan, adolescent pregnancy in Africa, effects of adolescent pregnancy, and interventions to combat teenage/adolescent pregnancy.
Results: The contributory factors for adolescent pregnancy in South Sudan are sociocultural where the need for dowries, forced and arranged marriages, gender based violence are examples, economic and political factors; where poor implementation or inadequate adolescent policies, illiteracy and poverty are major factors, failure of health systems; where the unavailability of health services such as the provision of contraceptives for adolescents and scarcity of teenager/adolescent-friendly health clinics; and individual factors where
adolescents reported desire to be mothers, societal recognition and peer pressure. In addition to all of these, rape and sexual slavery are reported as causes of adolescent pregnancy.
Conclusions: Causes of adolescent pregnancy in South Sudan are multifactorial. The country needs to adopt the published guidelines from WHO on reduction of adolescent pregnancy and learn from experiences of countries that showed a greater reduction. The utilization of interventions made through research and evidence-based information which are suitable to South Sudan context are crucial.