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Developing Countries: Health Education

Volume 464: debated on Friday 19 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the role of sexual and reproductive health education in achieving the sixth millennium development goal, of combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. (157960)

Education, including sexual and reproductive health education, is one of the most significant factors in preventing the spread of HIV in the next generation. In Swaziland, two-thirds of teenage girls in school are free from HIV, while two-thirds of girls out of school have HIV. Girls, boys and adults with more education are more likely to have knowledge of key prevention techniques, including condoms to help prevent HIV infection and insecticide impregnated bed nets to prevent malaria infection, and more able to persuade their partners, and in the case of bed nets, families, to use them.

DFID has funded two major research programmes that included assessing the impact of sexual and reproductive health education. These are the 'Safe passages to adulthood' programme at Southampton university (with a £2 million grant) and the Transitions to Adulthood' programme, run by then Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) and the Population Council (with a £5 million DFID grant). Early AGI findings from research in four developing countries (Burkina Faso, Malawi, Ghana and Uganda) demonstrate that the impact of sex education varies with the country and cultural context, as well as with methods of teaching used. In Uganda, for example, there was 8.5 times the use of condoms among those that had sex education, compared to those that did not. However, this finding was not replicated in all contexts. 40 per cent. of women who had been given a practical demonstration on how to use a condom reported using one at their last sexual encounter, whereas only 30 per cent. who had not received the demonstration reported using a condom.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of sexual and reproductive health education in developing countries. (157961)

DFID has funded two major research programmes that included assessing the impact of sexual and reproductive health education. These are the 'Safe passages to adulthood' programme at Southampton university (with a £2 million grant) and the Transitions to Adulthood' programme, run by then Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) and the Population Council (with a £5 million DFID grant). Early AGI findings from research in four developing countries (Burkina Faso, Malawi, Ghana and Uganda) demonstrate that the impact of sex education varies with the country and cultural context, as well as with methods of teaching used. In Uganda, for example, there was 8.5 times the use of condoms among those that had sex education, compared to those that did not. However, this finding was not replicated in all contexts. 40 per cent. of women who had been given a practical demonstration on how to use a condom reported using one at their last sexual encounter, whereas only 30 per cent. who had not received the demonstration reported using a condom.

A special issue of the African Journal of Reproductive Health, ‘Protecting the next generation', providing evidence from the AGI work will be published later this year.

Education, including sexual and reproductive health education, is one of the most significant factors in preventing the spread of HIV in the next generation.