Understanding Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health-seeking Behaviors in Ethiopia: Implications for Youth Friendly Service Programming

To meet the unique sexual and reproductive health needs of its large adolescent and youth population, Ethiopia’s government has expanded and institutionalized youth-friendly services (YFS) at all levels of the health system. To help inform and improve these efforts, the Evidence Project, in collaboration with USAID/Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health, conducted a study on adolescents’ and young people’s use of and opinions on YFS. A total of 3,611 respondents from rural and peri-urban areas answered questions about their use of basic health services, contraceptive use and sexual activity, and awareness and use of YFS.

Results showed that young people were satisfied overall with the health services they received, regardless of whether it was basic health services or YFS. Awareness and use of YFS was low, but many of the young people who reported using contraception may have been using YFS without knowing it. Importantly, respondents reported low levels of social autonomy and required permission to leave the house from either a parent or spouse, which could present a significant barrier to accessing health services, and especially SRH services.

Policymakers and programmers can apply these findings to increase awareness and demand for sexual and reproductive health services among young people, and to ensure that services are targeting and reaching adolescents and young people effectively.