1.1 Background of the Study
There is a high level of maternal motality study has observed that the high maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in Nigeria is attributed to her youth’s sexuality (Harrison, 2009). The latter is characterized by low contraceptive usage by the youth, high incidence of illegal abortion amongst the youths, ignorance of contraception among the youth, and lack of sex education from parents and teachers. The situation in Nigeria is likely to a reflection of the situation in the entire Africa. Such a situation made the World Health Organization Report (2010) to show that Africa’s progress in meeting the number 5 Millennium Development Goals (MDG5), in which the target is 75% reduction in the maternal mortality ratio from the year 2000, to the year 2015 remains a major challenge to health systems worldwide..
Attahir, Sufiyan, Abdukadir and Haruna (2010) found out that the health risk faced by adolescent girls during pregnancy is very high, accounting for 15% of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) for maternal conditions and 13% of all maternal deaths. The cause of this degenerating health condition of adolescent girls, according to Tien (2006), is lack of knowledge and access to contraception. Consequently, Tayo, Akinola, Babatunde, Adewumi, Osinusi and Shittu (2010) suggested active and intensive promotion of sexuality education, and contraceptive use among the youth in the Sub-Saharan Africa as a way of addressing this anomaly.
Adolescent sexual activity and child bearing has adverse social consequences for premarital fertility, manifested by the disruption of young women’s education; in Kenya, and other African countries, pregnant students are required to drop out of school, and in some areas up to 10% of female students curtail their education each year as a result of pregnancy (Benson, 2010).
Pregnancy is riskier for the very young women than for those who delay their first birth until after age 20. Complications such as obstructed and prolonged labour are leading causes of death among teenage women worldwide. Furthermore, data from around the world show that babies born to teenage mothers are more likely to die than those with their mothers over age 20 (WHO, 2010). Adolescent pregnancy have made many young women to procure abortion which is illegal in many sub-African countries, for it is the main cause of maternal mortality and has also serious health consequences. This is mainly due to the fact that premarital relations tends to be common in most societies and premarital births are considered undesirable and often result in abortion or infanticide (WHO, 2010).
The consequences of teenage sexual activity transcend pregnancy, because they are often ignorant about their sexual health, yet they are susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. The adolescents should therefore be provided with services and knowledge of contraception for the protection of their own health and their children. Developing countries like Nigeria, have experienced high rate of development in terms of health and standard of living since independence in 1960. The situation has led to the reduction in mortality rate and rise in fertility rate leading to high population growth and hence putting pressure on social and economic development (WHO, 2010).
One of the major factors is that youth often lack basic reproductive information on the consequences of sexual intercourse (Indongo, 2014). In addition to the above mentioned information, youth also lack skills in negotiating sexual relationship, and knowledge about affordable confidential reproductive health services. Again many do not feel comfortable discussing sexual issues with parents or other key adults with whom they can talk about their reproductive health concerns. Likewise, parents, healthcare workers, and educators frequently are unwilling or unable to provide complete and accurate age-appropriate reproductive health information to young people. This is often due to discomfort in discussing the subject or the false belief that providing the information will encourage increased sexual activity. This is because most youth enter into sexual relationships with very little knowledge on the consequences. The little knowledge they have is either got from their peers or from the media.
Despite the social and cultural importance of child bearing in African society, unwanted pregnancies are a source of concerns within the family. This is more acute for adolescent girls who often fall pregnant out of wedlock. In a bid to avoid facing judgment from their family and community, resulting to abortion is commonly their only choice. Studies in Nigeria indicate high rate of sexual activities as well as limited knowledge and use of condom among secondary school students as well as undergraduates (Iyaniwura and Salako, 2015). The resultant effect is an increased rate of unwanted pregnancy and the attendant unsafe abortion. As unintended pregnancy still poses a major challenge to the reproductive health of young adults in developing countries, there is need to improve on their knowledge and utilization of contraceptives. This study is therefore carried out to examine the knowledge and practice of contraception among students of medical laboratory science, Babcock University.