Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Adolescents’ Sexual and Reproductive Health in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.

Copyright UNICEF/UNI325619// Frank Dejongh

Globally, approximately 1.8 billion people are between the age of 10 and 19 years, and 90% of them live in LMICs. Many adolescents from LMICs, particularly girls, are vulnerable to poor SRH and experience early and unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortions, sexual violence, and sexually transmitted infections. These adolescents already faced significant barriers in accessing essential SRH information and services before the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic has further strained health systems and likely impacted adolescents’ SRH and access to SRH services, but there is very little information on the SRH status of this population during the pandemic in LMICs.

 

Our project will investigate (1) the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on access to SRH and services among adolescents in LMICs, and (2) the effectiveness of interventions designed to promote SRH and access to SRH services among this population during and after the pandemic. Our project exemplifies interdisciplinary collaboration, linking scholars from North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Oceania. This project comprises four activities: (1) a comprehensive scoping review of literature on the impact of the pandemic on access to SRH services by adolescents in LMICs; (2) a scoping review of the literature to explore the effectiveness of interventions designed to promote SRH and access to SRH services for adolescents in LMICs during and after the pandemic; (3) an online research team meeting and workshop to discuss how COVID-19 is impacting the SRH and rights of adolescents in LMICs and to outline a draft proposal for a major funding body; and (4) a webinar for graduate students on methodological and ethical issues on researching adolescent SRH and rights in the context of COVID-19.

Our project is guided by the following questions:

  • What is known from the literature about the impact of COVID-19 on SRH and rights of adolescents in LMICs?
  • What interventions have been designed and implemented to promote SRH and access to SRH services for adolescents in LMICs during and after the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • How can future studies overcome research gaps and inform programs and policies that meet the SRH care needs of adolescents in the context of the pandemic?

This project will synthesize knowledge and establish a research team to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on adolescent SRH and rights and the effectiveness of interventions designed to improve access and delivery of SRH services in LMICs. We expect to find that the pandemic is having significant impacts on young people’s access to SRH services and information in LMICs. Our long-term goal is to use our findings to improve access to SRH delivery, service, and outcomes during and after COVID-19 and in future pandemics.

Dr. Salima Meherali, University of Alberta

Dr. Philomina Okeke-Ihejirika, University of Alberta

Dr. Bukola Salami, University of Alberta

Dr. Solina Richter, University of Alberta

Professor Lydia Aziato, University of Ghana

Dr. Samuel_Adjorlolo, University of Ghana

Professor Stephen Owusu Kwankye, University of Ghana

Dr. Parveen Ali, University of Sheffield

Dr. Kênia Lara Silva, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

Dr. Zohra Lassi, University of Adelaide

Public Health