Reproductive health situation among youth in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Mpilambo, Jacques Elengemoke
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Background: In the Democratic Republic of Congo, 22.2% of the total population is in the age group of 15 to 24 years. In this country, this population group faces a large number of reproductive health problems. Even though the concerned health officials have implemented several health care programs, the youth particularly girls still have many problems particularly lack of sexual health information, poor health care, inability to avoid early and unprotected sexual relationships, early marriage, early pregnancies, early childbearing, etc. Objectives: The aim of this study is to examine reproductive health issues among young women and to understand how they utilise the health care systems in their respective socio-economic and demographic characteristic. Data and Methods: Descriptive and multivariate analyses were used. Cross tabulation, Chi-square, Phi coefficient and Cramer‘s V were applied to test for association between independents and outcome variables. At multivariate level of analysis, binary logistic regression was performed. All analyses were performed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 23.0. Results: The study found that young women who faced early sexual intercourse (OR=73.5) and those who experienced it at 16-17 (OR= 42.3) are more at risk of early marriage than those who initiated at the age 18-24. Meanwhile, young women with no education (OR=14.1), primary and secondary education (OR=10.7 and OR=8.6 respectively) have a higher risk of early union than their higher educated counterparts. Furthermore, respondents who married in their early adolescence (OR=38.3) and middle (OR=20.0) adolescence are more at risk of early childbearing than those who married in their emerging adulthood. Moreover, young women from Maniema, Equateur and Bas Congo provinces are 95%, 62% and 58% (respectively) less likely to have had at least four ANC visits than those from Kinshasa. Conclusion: There is an urgent need for formal sex education before first sexual initiation to give better options than early marriage to adolescent girls. Also, the disparities in the antenatal care services utilization between provinces should be addressed. The concerned authorities should balance the distribution of health facilities and qualified personal among provinces.