Adolescents in Latin America are confronted with serious sexual and reproductive health problems. Besides the negative physical effects, poor sexual and reproductive health brings about social threats for adolescents. The CERCA project aims to contribute to the global knowledge about how health systems could be more responsive to the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents and by extension to the other health needs of their populations. In a first phase the determinants for sexual and reproductive health for adolescents will be analysed in research settings in three Latin American cities: Cochabamba in Bolivia, Cuenca in Ecuador, and Managua in Nicaragua. Subsequently a comprehensive strategy for community-embedded interventions will be developed that targets at improved access to adolescent-friendly reproductive health care in primary health services, a supporting and enabling environment and strengthened adolescent competence to make reproductive health choices. A strong emphasis will be put on the use of media (internet and text message on mobiles) to reach adolescents for empowering actions. The strategy will be implemented and tested on its impact and applicability. The analysis of the implementation processes and the evaluation results will help to develop a framework for community-embedded interventions that improve the responsiveness of health systems to health needs. Community-participatory action research will be the main methodology for the development of the intervention strategy and the framework. A randomised control and a quasi experimental study will be used for the impact evaluation. Policy makers will be continuously involved in the research project as a part of the project strategy to bridge the gap between health research and health policies.
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