Caroline Kabiru is a research scientist in the Population Dynamics and Reproductive Health Research Program at the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) in Nairobi, Kenya. She is also the 2016 Caldwell Population, Health and Development Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University. Caroline holds a PhD in Health Promotion and Behavior and a Master’s degree in Public Health. Caroline is driven by her passion to contribute to efforts that support young people to live healthy and productive lives. Her research centers on issues related to adolescent and youth health, including resilience and positive youth development.
Adolescent health and wellbeing in Africa: What do we know and what next? Reflections from a Kenyan perspective
Adolescence—a period characterized by rapid physical, mental and social changes—is a life stage of immense opportunity if young people receive nurturing care and support. However, adolescents also have significant health and developmental needs that if left unaddressed not only negatively affect adolescents’ lives, but also impose a significant burden on future population health. The health and developmental challenges facing adolescents in Africa are most critical for those living in resource-poor contexts that are marked by limited educational and employment opportunities, poor access to health care, widespread violence, and pervasive poverty, among other challenges. This lecture will describe several research programs in Kenya that are underpinned by a recognition that meeting adolescents’ needs in such settings requires holistic, integrated programs that address the multiple determinants of adolescent health and wellbeing—the family context, where and if they go to school, the communities they live in, and the national policies around health, education, and many others. The lecture will also reflect on the lessons learnt from these programs as well as emerging areas for further research.