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Teachers and healthcare workers' perceived reproductive health challenges faced by secondary school adolescents in low resource community of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

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Adolescents’ early sexual debut contributes to the number of sexual and reproductive health challenges that they are faced with. In trying to deal with these reproductive health challenges that adolescents are facing South Africa recently adopted the Integrated School Health Policy, which enables adolescents to access sexual reproductive health care services and information in the school context. This study explored reproductive health challenges from the perspective of the life orientation teachers and school health nurses. Methods: Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted with 15 participants in some low resource communities in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Four of the participants were school health nurses and 11 of the participants were life orientation teachers. Results: The results of this study show that when it comes to reproductive health education teachers and school health nurses face numerous challenges. At the macro and exo level the Department of Education provides life orientation teachers with limited teaching resources and the life orientation curriculum covers the minimum number of reproductive health topics. On the other hand, the Department of Health does not have enough school health nurses, therefore leaving the available school health nurses with a load of work that is beyond their capacity. At the meso level parents find it difficult to communicate with their children about sex-related topics, this however is influenced by culture, religion, and tradition. Due to poor parent-child communication, children find themselves subjected to peers as their source of information and that leaves room for peer pressure or peer influence. At this level of influence families are confronted with poverty which impacts the behaviour of adolescents getting married at a young age and also being sexually active at a young age for transactional sex. This exposes the adolescents to teenage pregnancy, STI’s & STD’s as well as other reproductive health challenges. At the Micro level adolescents are less informed about reproductive health and by the onset of their sexual debut they engage themselves in an act that they are less informed about.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.