Policy Gaps Impair OVC Access to Reproductive Health
Main Notes on YRH Policy
May 31, 2007
Noted by Jim Rosen
A mostly grim UN report released in mid-January 2007 finds that about 15 million children under age 18 have lost one or both parents to AIDS. In Africa as a whole, that’s about 3 percent of all kids. But in hard-hit countries like Zimbabwe, almost one-fourth of children have lost one or more parents to the disease.
Half or more of these orphans are adolescents aged 12-17. The evidence, summarized in a recent YouthNet report, convincingly shows that this group faces greater reproductive health challenges than their peers.
But are countries enacting the policies and putting in place the programs to meet the reproductive health needs of this group? With some exceptions, the answer is an overwhelming “No.” Although many countries have enacted formal policies to help kids orphaned by the AIDS epidemic, most of the focus tends to be on younger orphans.
National OVC policies, like the one Lesotho recently approved provide important guidance for coordination and programming. Now, ensuring that such policies recognize the particular reproductive health needs of adolescents is key.
What’s been your experience? Are policymakers ignoring the reproductive health of adolescent OVCs where you work? What are some of the reasons? Are you aware of policies that recognize the health needs of adolescent OVCs? Let me know.