Utilization of Selected Reproductive Health Services among Adolescent Mothers in Meru County, Kenya
Muriuki, Sabera M.
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Reproductive health is “a state of complete physical, mental, emotional and social well-being and not merely absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions. Despite efforts from Ministry of Health relevant partners to provide the highest attainable health for all, adolescents continue to face reproductive health challenges such as; STI/HIV, teenage pregnancy, unsafe abortion and harmful practices, for example female genital mutilation. This affects adolescent‟s career progression, childbearing age and increases risk of reproductive health problems in future. Utilization of reproductive health services (RHS) could save many adolescents from the numerous sexual and reproductive health problems. Little has been documented about the levels of utilization of reproductive health services by adolescent mothers in Igembe South Sub County. The purpose of this study therefore was to determine the level of utilization of reproductive health services by adolescent mothers in County, Meru County. The study adopted a descriptive cross-sectional design using pretested questionnaires. The study population was adolescent mothers who had delivered within twelve months prior to the study. Sample size comprised of 234 adolescent mothers and 10 key informants. A pretest of research tools was carried out at Kimongoro location. Data analysis was done by use of thematic content and quantitative data presented by use of percentages and frequencies distribution tables. For inferential quantitative analysis, a partial binary logistic regression model was fitted to determine demographic, socio cultural and health facility predictors of utilization of reproductive health services in Igembe South sub-County. Adjusted Odds Ratios were evaluated for significance by considering the 95% Confidence Interval or the p. value for the Z statistic generated. Ethical clearance was sought from the Graduate School, Kenyatta University Ethical Review Committee, and National Commission for Science Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI), Meru County director of public Health, County director of education and County commissioner. The results showed that utilization of the selected reproductive health services by adolescent mothers was high (above 70%). In this study, majority of the adolescent mothers attended antenatal services at least once. However, the proportion attending the clinic at least 4 times according to the recommendations of the WHO was below the findings of the Kenya demographic survey report which reported that more than half of all pregnant mothers had visited the clinic four or more times. More than 80% of the adolescent mothers reported to have delivered their babies in health facilities. An adolescent mother who is not married was less likely to seek reproductive health services than married ones (AOR =0.51, p=0.033). Level of education and socio-economic status as well as the person adolescents live with, influence utilization of contraceptive services in the area. The study found that a Muslim adolescent was 74% less likely to attend antenatal services compared to a Christian adolescent (AOR= 0.262, 95% CI (0.132 to 0.51, p<0.001) The researcher recommends that primary school curriculum should include sexuality education to ensure factual information is passed to teenagers at primary level. The Ministry of Health to waive user-fee for reproductive health services to ensure all adolescents can access them. The information generated from this study may be a useful contribution to the current knowledge on adolescents‟ reproductive health management and policy development by the Government of Kenya.