Addressing adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) requires an understanding of the socio-cultural and spatial settings within which they live. One setting of particular importance is the informal settlements or ‘slums’ that are gradually dominating the urban space. We undertook a scoping review and synthesis of existing evidence on adolescent SRHR in slums in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) focusing on the characteristics and nature of existing evidence.
The scoping review was conducted based on Arksey and O’Malley framework and in accordance with the guidance on scoping reviews from the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) and using PRISMA reporting guidelines for scoping reviews. A comprehensive search was undertaken in PubMed, POPLINE, African Journals Online (AJOL), Bioline International and Google Scholar. The search was confined to studies published in peer reviewed journals and reports published online between January 2000 and May 2019. Studies were included in the review if they addressed SRHR issues among adolescents living in urban slums in SSA.
The review included a total of 54 studies. The majority (79.5%) of studies were quantitative. The bulk of studies (85.2%) were observational studies with only eight intervention studies. While half (27) of the studies focused exclusively on adolescents (10–19 years), 12 studies combined adolescents with other young people (10–24 years). The studies were skewed towards sexual behavior (44%) and HIV/AIDS (43%) with very few studies focusing on other SRHR issues such as contraception, abortion, gender-based violence and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) other than HIV. Most of the studies highlighted the significantly higher risks for poor SRHR outcomes among adolescents in slums as compared to their peers in other settlements.
Young people growing up in slums face tremendous challenges in relation to their SRHR needs resulting in poor outcomes such as early and unintended pregnancy, STIs, and sexual violence. The results of this review point to several potential target areas for programming, policy, and research aimed at improved adolescent SRHR in slums in SSA.