By Gabriel Olawale
The high rate of risky sexual behaviour and practices among youths in Ilaje and Iwaya suburb of Lagos state, has been described as worrisome even as the lack of adolescent youth friendly health services in the area is contributing to unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortion, and Sexually Transmitted Infections among others.
According to results of a new study conducted by Action Health Incorporated, AHI, the limited access to Sexual and Reproductive Health information and services was fuelling the poor sexual and reproductive health status of young people in the area generally.
Disclosing this during a forum of stakeholders comprising the Lagos State Ministries of Health, Youth & Social Development, Com-munity members,Civil Society and young people, Programme Officer, AHI, Funso Bukoye said most of the sexually active youths that participated in the study had information about sexuality which they obtained from peers in school.
Sharing the outcome of their study in Ilaje and Iwaya suburb of Lagos state, she said: “Out of 500 respondents aged 15-24, 81 percent received information on sexuality and peers at school was the most significant source of their information.
“Comprehensive understanding of HIV was extremely low in both communities with a significant portion of participants in both areas were sexually active. Condoms and pills well known among both regions, unreliable methods like withdrawal were more known in Ilaje.
“Only 62.5 percent of sexually active participants use contraceptives and of these less than 25 percent use contraceptives every time.
“Around 30-40 percent of young people have never used their local PHC and the most common reason was that participants felt uncomfortable going there,” she remarked.
Further, she said:“The majority of the sexually active young people in the community are at risk of contracting STIs includent HIV/AIDS as awareness of contraceptives did not translate into usage among sexually active participants, with less than 25 percent of participants using contraceptives consistently.”
She however pointed out that like other communities in Lagos State, the sexual and reproductive health status of young people in Ilaje and Iwaya communities was very poor and required intervention in the areas of information and education on sexuality matters, awareness of the existence and role of the health center and risky sexual behaviour.
The forum which attributed poor sexual and reproductive health status of young people in Nigeria to limited access to sexual and repro-ductive health information and services noted that it could have long term negative impacts on them.
It called for the integration of Adolescent Youth Friendly Healthcare Services, AYFHS in all Primary Healthcare Centers across Lagos State.
Improve young people’s access to trained healthcare professionals who can provide quality sexual reproductive health information to young people and ensure they have good understanding.
Implimentation of minimum ward health care package which specifies the provision of adolescent health services at PHC.