An Analysis of Adolescent Content in South Africa's Contraception Policy Using a Human Rights Framework.

Journal of Adolescent Health

PubMedID: 26592330

Hoopes AJ, Chandra-Mouli V, Steyn P, Shilubane T, Pleaner M. An Analysis of Adolescent Content in South Africa's Contraception Policy Using a Human Rights Framework. J Adolesc Health. 2015;57(6):617-23.
To evaluate whether the updated South African national contraception policy and guidelines adequately address the needs of adolescents.

We used the World Health Organization (WHO) guidance and recommendations on ensuring human rights in the provision of contraceptive information and services as an analytic framework. We assessed the South African policy in relation to each WHO summary recommendation. Specifically, we determined where normative guidance pertaining to adolescents is present and whether it is adequate, normative guidance pertaining to all populations but not specifically adolescents is present, or normative guidance for that recommendation is missing from the policy. We developed an analytic table to discuss with coauthors and draw conclusions.

We found specific guidance for adolescents relating to 6/9 WHO summary recommendations and 11/24 subrecommendations. Adolescents are highlighted throughout the policy as being at risk for discrimination or coercion, and laws protecting the rights of adolescents are cited. Confidentiality of services for young people is emphasized, and youth-friendly services are described as a key element of service delivery. Areas to strengthen include the need for normative guidance ensuring both availability of contraceptive information and services for young people and adolescent participation in development of community programs and services.

South Africa's contraception policy and guidelines are comprehensive and forward looking. Nevertheless, there are gaps that may leave adolescents vulnerable to discrimination and coercion and create barriers to accessing contraceptive services. These findings provide insight for the revision and development of adolescent health policies in South Africa and other settings.