By Bose Adelaija
Health Matters Incorporated, HMI, has stressed the need for the government to inculcate youth-friendly services into its primary health care.
According to HMI, it would bring about improved health care delivery among Nigerian female youths most especially in Lagos State.
Speaking during a project titled, “Mainstreaming Friendly and Comprehensive Sexual Reproductive Health services for Girls and Young Women into Primary Health Care Centres in Lagos State’’, HMI Project Officer Lola Abolurin lamented that despite the Nigerian policies formulated in 2007 and 2010, there are some gaps in the way issues relating to girls and young women are being treated medically, calling on the government to address the linkages before things get out of hand.
The Project Officer who referred to a Lagos State Statistical Bulletin of 2016 which showed that many young ones do not patronize primary health care facilities to access quality and affordable health care services said the few who tried to patronize the PHCs do not get the desired attention due to lack of trained personnel on Youth-Friendly Sexual Reproductive Health Services at the primary health care facilities.
She enumerated other deterrent factors as inequitable gender norms and discrimination not only from communities but also from service providers.
Others are social-cultural barriers, stigma against young women’s sexuality and lack of knowledge on sexual reproductive health right (right of access to quality health care) on the part of young girls/women.
Abolurin called for the integration of comprehensive friendly health care services for young people by engaging community stakeholders and key opinion leaders in a dialogue to address issues bothering on societal inhibition and stigma associated with young girls visiting health care facilities for quality medical attention. She said, ‘’ Health Matters Incorporated has identified that in Lagos State as of 2016, the population of women of 15 to 49 years was about 32% and 28% of them were girls aged between 15 and 19 years old. This shows limited information about sexual reproductive health issues as it bothers on girls and young women.’’
Delivering a lecture on the topic, a Health Education Officer with Ajeromi/Ifelodun Local Council Ms. Awodumola Dupe called on parents to cooperate with the government to render necessary assistance to the youths thereby building a youth-friendly community.
One of the participants Mrs. Modupe Yakubu said the programme had changed her perception about the ways to handle Nigerian female youths without tampering with their future.
In a chat with Vanguard, HMI Executive Director Dr. Peter Ujomu said government mainstreaming youth-friendly services into PHCs will hopefully succeed through deliberate policies and community acceptance of the idea by ensuring nondiscrimination for young girls visiting the PHCs. He said, ‘’It is about government deliberately allowing young people benefiting from the services that will help improve their reproductive health by encouraging the staff of the PHC to be updated in their knowledge and skill for managing young people through appropriate training,’’