AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), an NGO, has stressed the need for
an in-depth engagement by parents and teachers with adolescents on sexual and reproductive health in
commemoration of the 2019 International Day of the Girl-Child.
Steve Aborisade, Advocacy and Marketing Manager of AHF Nigeria, made the call in an interview with News Agency of
Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday, ahead of the International Day of the Girl Child, celebrated annually on Oct. 11.
The theme for this year is: `Empowered Girls, Brighter Future.”
The AHF manager said that the group would mark the day this year with partners,
including Strong Enough Girls Initiative, Youth Initiative for Sustainable Human Development in Africa (YISHDA).
He said that the day would create a platform for young girls to discuss issues about their well-being,
such as reproductive health and their rights, as well as contributions from stakeholders to mitigate challenges faced by girls and young women.
Aborisade explained that the reproductive health and rights of adolescents was a growing global priority,
noting that “the UN has produced a global strategy for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health.
“As defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), adolescents and young people are persons between 10 and 24 years of age.
“This age is characterised by rapid physical growth and development, as well as sexual maturation. Youths and adolescents
are at risk of contacting HIV and AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
“It is also a period most adolescents try out new things such as sex, experimentation with drugs and so many more.
“As a result of engaging in these high risk behaviours, there has been an upsurge in the prevalence of HIV and AIDS and STDs among
adolescents, as revealed by the recent National Impact and AIDS Indicator Survey (NAIS).
The NGO official said that reproductive health challenges and sexual adventurous nature of most adolescents and health risk,
such as increased rate of unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, STDs, among others, were on the rise.
He, however, added that it was paramount to engage them on sexual and reproductive health information and services available,
to bridge necessary gaps and save lives.
He stressed the need for teachers to be impacted with skills to teach sex education effectively, life skills on communication and
negotiation with linkages to adolescent reproductive health services.
Aborisade said it was important to invest in confidential youth-friendly reproductive health services in schools and communities “and
to cater for the needs of adolescents who cannot abstain from sex, improve infrastructure for menstrual hygiene in schools by
providing clean toilets and water.
“Others include improved openness on sex and sexuality at home and in schools, family life and HIV and AIDS education
curriculum, with more comprehensive approach to sex education and STIs.” (NAN)
Edited by Nick Nicholas/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu
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