First Lady calls for unwavering support towards adolescent reproductive health

Lydia Asamoah, GNA

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,
July 9, GNA – The First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo says a more resolute and
co-operative leadership is needed from all stakeholders to help address
adolescent reproductive health challenges in Africa.

She said families and
communities, as well as educationists, health professionals and religious
leaders in Africa needed to play key roles in finding solutions to the many
adolescent reproductive health challenges on the continent.

Addressing the 19th
General Assembly of the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV and
AIDS in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mrs Akufo Addo said it was incumbent on African
countries to make the needed investments for adolescents to have easy and
user-friendly access to information and services for sexual and reproductive
health and rights.

She said if that was
not done, the current unsustainably high fertility among young women on the
continent may lead to high unemployment rate, increased poverty, illiteracy and
crime as well as food insecurity.

The 19th General
Assembly was held under the theme: “Building on 15 years of Engagement to
harness the Demographic Dividend of Africa through promoting the needs of
Adolescents and their access to Youth-friendly Health Services.”

The First Lady noted
that in many parts of Africa, including Ghana, adolescents were often ill
informed and ignorant about their rights and often, lacked access to
youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services.

This, she explained
was due to the fact that the family and community, which traditionally were the
primary institutions for socialisation, were inhibited by cultural taboos or
ignorance when it came to educating the youth about their sexual and
reproductive health and rights.

She said even where
services were available there were barriers such as judgmental health service
providers who tended to think that it was the morally deprived adolescent who
accesses these health facilities.

She indicated that in
some cases, health facilities may not be equipped to provide adolescents with
the services they needed and may also not be ‘user-friendly’ to the adolescents
with the educational system and religious institutions sometimes failing to
provide the needed comprehensive education to enable young adults protect their
health, well-being and dignity.

Mrs Akufo Addo said
because of these challenges, many adolescents lacked the knowledge required to
make responsible and informed decisions and choices concerning their Sexual and
Reproductive Health leaving them vulnerable and prone to practices, which
resulted in unsafe abortion, child marriages, sexually transmitted infections
and unintended pregnancies.

She has therefore
called on everyone including the family, community, health, educational,
traditional and religious leaders to work in a concerted, sustained, collective
and collaborative manner to help provide adequate information to the
adolescents and youth to help them make informed choices.

She however,
enumerated some of the initiatives and efforts being undertaken at the
continental level to include the hosting and launch of the United Continental
“All In” Campaign, which aims at finding solutions to end adolescent AIDS and
promote the involvement of adolescents in decision making regarding their SRH
and rights.

The first Lady said
since the launch, Ghana had revised its National Adolescent Reproductive Health
Policy that had led to an improvement in access to user-friendly Clinics.

She said queen
mothers/ traditional rulers and religious leaders had also been involved in
promoting the well-being of the youth.

She said steps had
been taken to mainstream life skills and reproductive health and rights
education in the countries educational system.

“This gives us cause
to be optimistic about achieving the demographic dividend that will eventually
impact positively on our national development,” she added.


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