Youth forum to preceed the FP2020 Reference Group meeting kicks off today in Abuja
Most women around the world begin sexual relationships between the ages of 15 and 19 and face significant challenges in obtaining services and information to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV (Bankole and Singh, 2003; UNFPA, 2014; Wellings et al., 2006).
As the world’s population of 15- to 19-year-olds continues to grow beyond 600 million, countries will need to meet increasing demand for contraceptive services and information that address their specific needs (UNDP, 2015).’
It is against this background, that the FP2020 Reference Group Meeting taking place in Nigeria this week will commence with a Youth Forum. The forum will draw young people from all geopolitical zones in Nigeria to actively engage, share experiences and best practices on actionable ways to ensure that other young people in their communities have access to quality, age-appropriate, non-judgmental and affordable sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services.
The youth forum will also have in attendance, Margaret Bolaji, the FP2020 Reference Group youth representative, youth SRH advocates, programs leads, communication experts, Women Deliver young leaders, current and previous winners of the 120 under 40 Family Planning award and members of the International Youth Alliance on Family Planning.
Speaking to HealthNewsNG.com on expectations from the meeting and youth, Blessing Timidi, a Women Deliver young leader from Ondo state said she looks forward to active youth engagement and actionable work plans for implementation of strategies that would be put forward by participants.
“My expectations from today’s forum are simple – “adequate youth engagement on how we can ensure adequate and effective access to FP for other young people and adolescents,” she said.
“Asides just bringing us together to share ideas, can we create work plans, hold ourselves accountable for tasks and give timelines for each task. We also want the government and other stakeholders to tell us how they would come in and boost the work we are doing by building our capacities and providing needed guidance and resources” she added.
“As a Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights advocate and a community activist, I expect, timely follow-up interventions on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) by the Nigerian government.
Primary Health Care (PHC), which ought to be the bedrock of Nigerian’s health system is the weakest today because it is being managed by the weakest health personnel in the system.
For an effective & efficient health system serving the health needs of all Nigerians, especially young people in rural communities, there is a need to emphasize physician-led Primary Health Care at the Ward level: each ward should have a fully functional & equipped PHC centre with a Medical Officer to take care of the primary health care needs of the people in the ward.
For example, my LGA, Akoko-Edo in Edo State has only one (1) Medical Doctor covering ten (10) Wards made up of about fifty (50) communities”.
The co-chair of the youth forum and FP2020 Reference Group Youth Representative, Margaret Bolaji looks forward to participants sharing experiences and collaborating to find innovative solutions to Youth Family Planning needs in various states.
“I look forward to a sharing and learning experience from other youth so together we can identify innovative solutions that solve adolescents and youth FP unmet needs at the state levels”.
According to a report by Family Planning High Impact Practices, investments that contribute to building an enabling environment for adolescent programming often include: ensuring legal rights, policies, and guidelines that respect, protect, and fulfill adolescents’ human rights to contraceptive information, products, and services regardless of age, sex, marital status, or parity; addressing norms and fostering support among communities and parents for adolescents to access contraceptive information and services; and addressing gender norms.
The report also states that when taken together, these seven elements of adolescent-friendly contraceptive services, encompassing service delivery and enabling environment aspects, need to be considered to increase adolescent uptake of contraception.
Based on experience from implementing stand-alone and separate-space AFCS, streamlining these elements into existing contraceptive services has the potential to be both cost-effective and scalable, expanding the reach of existing programs and improving access to high-quality contraceptive services for adolescents.
To join the conversation, follow the hashtags – #FP2020Progress #Force4Change