Let’s do more to aid adolescents to make right choices – Samira

The Second Lady, Mrs. Samira Bawumia, has underlined the need to provide strong support to adolescents to enable them to make right life choices.

She noted that technological advancement had brought in its wake increased access to information and that was why it was prudent to provide them with some protection – guide them from pitfalls.

Speaking at the launch of the national reproductive health advocacy week celebration in Kumasi, she noted that that many adolescents increasingly continued to be exposed to risks and pressures with little or no support.

The theme chosen for the event was “Preventing adolescent pregnancy – a shared responsibility” and it brought together students, chiefs, health workers and other stakeholders.

Mrs. Bawumia said it was important that the interest of every adolescent in the area of sexual and reproductive health, nutrition and other health-related issues, which affected their growth was sought.

She identified their limited access to quality health services as a major challenge they faced.

Added to this were physical abuse, child marriages, female genital mutilation and other forms of violence.

The Second Lady expressed concern about the high rate at which adolescents were getting pregnant.

Statistics at the Ghana Health Service (GHS) put the adolescent pregnancy rate at 11.8 per cent.

In the Ashanti Region, a total of 359 teenagers got pregnant, last year, and out of the number 323 were minors.

She said it was deeply disturbing to see minors between the ages of 10 and 17, giving birth, becoming mothers and dropping out of school.

Mrs. Bawumia reminded everybody that preventing adolescent pregnancy went beyond the health sector and said their health and wellbeing should be seen as a shared responsibility.

All stakeholders must therefore accept to play their expected roles well.

She called for active engagement and to build the capacity of teachers, religious leaders, traditional leaders and other stakeholders to address the emerging challenges facing the adolescent.

Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Director General of GHS, warned against ignoring the sexual reproductive health of the young people and said the consequences could be dire.

He applauded the World Health Organization, United Nations Fund for Population Activities, United National Children’s Fund, and the United Kingdom Department for International Development for the support for adolescent sexual and reproductive health programmes.

GNA