By Oboh Linus
Lafia, Sept. 15, 2020 An NGO, Society for Family Health (SFH) has called for concerted efforts by stakeholders in Nasarawa state to improve sexual and reproductive health of adolescent girls, curtail gender based violence.
Mrs Anita Elabo, Northern Zonal Coordinator of SFH made a call on Tuesday in Lafia at a media round-table on “COVID-19 and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health”, organised by NGO in collaboration with the state Ministry of Health.
Elabo maintained that the collaborative effort of government and other stakeholders would go a long way to improve the sexual, reproductive health and general development of the girl-child.
She said that SFH through its Adolescent 360 (A360) project being implemented in the state had improved girls’ sexual and reproductive health, thereby empowering them to fullfil their dreams.
Elabo explained that the A360 project was designed in partnership with adolescent girls and the communities with two components- “9ja Girls” for the unmarried adolescent girls and “Matasa Mayan Arewa” for the married adolescent girls.
According to Elabo, the primary goal of the project is to improve the sexual and reproductive health outcomes by making modern contraception relevant and accessible to adolescents and young people who have unmet need, thus increasing modern contraceptives prevalence rate and reducing maternal mortality rate.
She lauded the Nasarawa state government for providing an enabling environment for the implementation of the project.
The zonal coordinator said that the outbreak of Coronavirus also affected the project implementation as SFH had to make certain adaptation in line with COVID-19 protocol.
Also, Mr Samuel Ombs, Programme Assistant of A360 project, said that the “Matasa Matan Arewa” component of the project was implemented in Karu and Doma Local Government Areas in Nasarawa state.
He said that 10, 032 married adolescent girls were reached with Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services as well as life building information and skills acquisition in the programme.
According to him, 7,537 of the married adolescent girls reached, visited health facilities to access services and adopted a modern contraceptive method, while 1,106 others did not adopt any method.
He said that SFH engaged male Interpersonal Communication Agents (IPCAs) to reach out to husbands of the adolescent girls in their relaxation spots, to educate and convince them on why their wives should use contraception.
He said that safe spaces were created in public and private health facilities for adolescent girls to access services such as quality sexual reproductive and counselling by trained youth-friendly providers.
He said that the adolescents were also empowered with vocational skills acquisition to gain financial freedom and make informed choices.
Ombs explained that part of the adaptation by SFH for continuous implementation of the A360 during the COVID-19 lockdown included; the use of social media platforms such as WhatsApp to reach the adolescent girls with SRH information and services.
“Bulk text messages were also used to reach girls who do not have android phones and could not afford data. The adaptation have enabled A360 reach and engage the girls during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“By this, we have been able to avert over 2,000 unplanned pregnancies and syndromically managers over 300 Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) among the girls from March to August 2020,” Ombs said.
Also speaking, Nasarawa state Commissioner for Health, Mr Ahmed Yahaya, thanked SFH for implementing the A360 project in the state.
Yahaya, represented by Dr Ibrahim Adamu, Director of Public Health in the Ministry, said the intervention by SFH had encouraged other partners to look in that direction.
He assured that the state government would ensure the training and deployment of adolescent-friendly personnel to Primary Health Care (PHCs) and other health facilities to enable young person’s access SRH services.
Similarly, Dr Mohammed Adis, Executive Chairman, Nasarawa state Primary Health Care Development Agency (NAPHDA), said the agency was working to improve the well-being of the girl-child in the state.
Adis, represented by the Director, Primary Health Care, Dr Absalom Madawa, said that the agency already has a budget line for Adolescent SRH in its 2020 budget.