The Youth Programme Officer of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), Mr Michael Tagoe, has underscored the need for professionally trained counsellors to take up counselling in schools.
He noted that while the youth were constantly being exposed to all kinds of information related to sex, they did not have access to professionally trained counsellors to guide them in making informed choices on sexual behaviour.
He was speaking at a day’s programme organised by the Central Regional office of the National Youth Authority (NYA), with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and in collaboration with the Central Regional Coordinating Council, for selected youth leaders at Twifo Hemang in the Twifo Hemang Lower Denkyira District in the Central Region.
The 60 participants made up of youth and civil society organisational leaders from six districts in the region were educated on comprehensive sexuality education, adolescent sexual reproductive health and youth-friendly services.
They were drawn from the Ajumako Enyan-Essiam, Komenda Edina-Eguafo Abrem, Twifo Hemang Lower Denkyira, Upper Denkyira West, Ekumfi and Assin South districts.
Mr Tagoe noted that it was time “to shed all pretences and hypocrisy in sexual education and give adolescents the right information to enable them to make the right choices.”
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He observed that the country had played down sexual education for far too long, saying that “this had deprived many youth of the needed information for healthier choices.”
Sex without condoms
He said it was not surprising that some of the youth were now having sex without condoms and resorting to emergency contraceptives just to prevent pregnancies, warning that “emergency contraceptives cannot protect them against sexually transmitted diseases and that is not the best.”
He urged all stakeholders to take up the issue and support efforts to provide adolescents with the right sexuality education and friendly services.
The Central Regional Director of Gender, Mrs Thywill Kpe, who gave a talk on sexual and gender-based violence, noted that SGBV could lead to grave physical, emotional and psychological consequences on victims and urged the participants not to cover up, particularly for family members who perpetuated violence on others.
She further advised them to report any incident of violence in the communities to the appropriate agencies for offenders to face the full rigours of the law.
A Public Health Nurse with the Central Regional Directorate of the Ghana Health Service, Mrs Aba Wilson, said cases of teenage pregnancy had gone up over the past few years in the region and expressed the hope that dialogues on sexuality would help further reduce teenage pregnancy in the region.
Responsible sexual behaviour
The Regional Director of the NYA, Mr Emmanuel Sodja Martey, in his address, expressed optimism that such dialogues would equip the youth with the required knowledge to help reduce cases of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortion, while encouraging sexually responsible behaviour.