Press Release

Results of sociological survey of adolescents' reproducitve health

4 December 2018

Results of the sociological survey on the status of reproductive health of adolescents aged 15-19, their sexual behaviour and access to reproductive health services and information were presented yesterday at a press conference. The survey was commissioned by the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with financial support from UNFPA and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kazakhstan and technical support from the Republican Center on Prevention and Control of AIDS.

The General Director of the Republican Center on Prevention and Control of AIDS Bauyrzhan Bayserkin, Representative of UNFPA in Kazakhstan and Country Director in Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan Giulia Vallese and the Head of Analysis and Data Processing Department of Public Opinion Research Centre (CIOM) Aizhan Shabdenova presented the results of the survey.

“The results show that only 9.1% of adolescents surveyed could answer all the questions on HIV and AIDS correctly. This shows a very low level of awareness of the infection and its ways of transmission. 44,1% of the adolescents surveyed said they had had more than one sexual partner. In 2011 when a similar survey had been carried out, this figure stood at 41%,” said Aizhan Shabdenova.

Among those who reported having had symptoms of sexually transmitted infections only 37,4% turned for medical help.

“Among girls who said that they were pregnant 62% said that their pregnancies ended with the birth of their child; 22% had induced abortions and 16% had spontaneous miscarriages,” said Aizhan Shabdenova.

The survey is statistically representative, with a total of 4,360 adolescents interviewed anonymously from all 17 regions of Kazakhstan and from both rural and urban settings. In the questionnaire 2,6% of respondents said that they were married.

In an interview to journalists Giulia Vallese said that the best way to prevent abortions was to invest in preventing unintended pregnancies by providing contraceptives.

“Investing in comprehensive sexuality education, in access to medical consultation and services and access to contraceptives are key to preventing abortions. In an ideal world we all wish that parents and children had heart-to-heart conversations. But the reality is that many adolescents have sex and they don’t always turn for help to their parents because they are afraid or ashamed. Every adolescent as individual should have the right to seek medical care, to choose when to have a child and how to protect themselves from unintended pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections,” said Giulia Vallese.

“In October 2018 at the Parliamentary Conference “Investing in Youth. Leaving no one Behind” Kazakhstan and parliamentarians from over 35 countries adopted a Declaration. Its separate points call for protecting the reproductive health of young people,” said Giulia Vallese.

This is what paragraph 39 of the General Comment on the Convention on the Rights of the Child says:

“States should review or introduce legislation recognizing the right of adolescents to take increasing responsibility for decisions affecting their lives. The Committee recommends that States introduce minimum legal age limits, consistent with the right to protection, the best interests principle and respect for the evolving capacities of adolescents.....Consideration should also be given to the introduction of a legal presumption that adolescents are competent to seek and have access to preventive or time-sensitive sexual and reproductive health commodities and services. The Committee emphasizes that all adolescents have the right to have access to confidential medical counselling and advice without the consent of a parent or guardian, irrespective of age, if they so wish. This is distinct from the right to give medical consent and should not be subject to any age limit.”

Kazakhstan signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994.

For additional information please contact UNFPA communications specialist  Dina Teltayeva on cell phone 8 701 765 40 10 or e-mail teltayeva@unfpa.org