|Preventing adolescent pregnancies and improving adolescent reproductive health are important as they not only touch on more tangible issues like maternal and child mortality, but also have a long-term effect on any country’s basic wellbeing, from economic growth to societal and cultural development, to gender and equality issues. Nevertheless, pregnancies in adolescence still represent an important health challenge in the sub-Saharan country of Cameroon.
This study seeks to establish a better understanding of the current reproductive health situation for adolescents in Cameroon and determine if adolescents have the means available to prevent early age pregnancy. Its main objectives are to answer these questions: 1) What is the Cameroonian government doing with respect to health polices and sexual health programs in order to prevent adolescents from early pregnancies, and what are the main outcomes of any health programs implemented? 2) What are the main barriers limiting improvement of adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health situation in Cameroon? This study uses a review-based method to explore literature on the subject of adolescent reproductive health in Cameroon. The review considers the background to the current adolescent reproductive health situation in Cameroon, and describes the policies and programs used in efforts to meet the country’s reproductive health needs.
The main findings show that the Cameroonian government has a set of written health policies, dating back to the early 1990s, which touch on reproductive health, but none of them specifically address the issues of the subject among adolescents in Cameroon. Most of the implemented reproductive health programs have been short-term efforts headed up by non-governmental entities. Among these initiatives, the “Aunties program” and those based on peer education have shown the most effectiveness and promise among adolescents. Overall the efforts expended so far have regrettably been inadequate. The main barriers limiting the improvement of sexual and reproductive health in Cameroon can be summarised as: lack of existence of and access to qualified “adolescent-friendly” health facilities and personnel, lack of political will in development and implementation of nationwide health policies and programs, and a too short time-frame for the programs implemented. The situation is further complicated by structural, political, cultural and religious factors that have created a standstill and frequent unwillingness to move towards progress in bettering the reproductive health situation of Cameroonian adolescents.