The second edition of the National Adolescent Reproductive Health Summit held in Accra, has identified lack of adequate Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) education and services as the major factors which negatively affect the lives of adolescents.
The two-day summit, which was organised by the National Population Council (NPC) with support from Marie Stopes International, Ghana, and civil society partners, was meant to show the linkage between effective population management and sexual reproductive health rights and to promote young peoples’ ideas and innovations in population management.
It was also aimed at providing a platform for partners to share knowledge and lessons on the implementation of sexual reproduction health rights, policy, programming and advocacy, as well as to explore sustainable financing for adolescent sexual reproductive rights beyond donor funding.
The theme for this year’s summit is: ‘‘Effective Population Management through Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Financing Beyond Aid’’.
The event brought together about 300 participants from institutions such as the Ghana AIDS Commission, Ghana Health Service, Plan Parenthood Association of Ghana, National Youth Authority, Health Keepers Network, Inclusion Ghana, Curious Minds, Hope for Future Generations, Health Keepers Ghana, UNDP and UNCEF.
In her opening address, the Executive Director of the National Population Council, Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah, noted that the contraceptive prevalence rate among adolescents ranged from a low rate of 17 per cent in West Africa to 73 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean while in Ghana, the adolescent contraceptive prevalence rate was 16.7 per cent.
“The above indicators show that when adolescents are equipped with adequate knowledge and services and are retained in schools, they will gain skilled employment, become healthy adults and marry to produce healthy children through investment in adequate health, education and value clarification,” she said.
Dr Appiah added that according to a major new Lancet Commission on adolescent health and well-being launched in 2016, decades of neglect and underinvestment had had serious detrimental effects on the health and well-being of adolescents aged 10 to 24 years.
“It is ,therefore, important that nations actively make a choice to invest in adolescent reproductive health, knowledge and services which will set the stage for nations to transform their human resource into healthy human capital to enable them reap demographic dividends,” she said.
The Country Director of Marie Stopes International Ghana, Ann Coolen, mentioned that Ghana had a crucial challenge to address, with its adolescent birth rate still at 14.2 per cent and adolescent unmet needs for contraception at 50.7 per cent, according to the 2017 Maternal Health Survey report.
“This situation, if rightly addressed, could be an opportunity for sustainable development but it requires that the needed resources are committed to address it. It is critical that the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents is given major priority in our development discourse and practice.
“We cannot wait any longer. We need to come together as government agencies, civil society partners and adolescents to address some of the key challenges that Ghana and particularly, its adolescents, are facing,” she stressed.
For his part, the Associate Professor at the University of Cape Coast, Prof. Akwasi Kumi-Kyereme, noted that effectiveness of the adolescent reproductive health campaign could be measured by focusing on easily defined goals.
Three separate speeches read on behalf of the Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu; Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, and the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Isaac Asiamah respectively, noted that the sexuality and reproductive health of adolescents were crucial and must be taken seriously to help manage the country’s population growth rate.