Society for Family Health (SFH), an NGO has urged Nasarawa State government to prioritise Adolescents Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH), to ensure the holistic development of the girl-child.
Managing Director of SFH, Dr Omokhudu Ighodo, made the call on Friday in Lafia, at the closeout meeting of the Adolescent 360 (A360) project being implemented by SFH in the state.
Ighodo, represented by Oyebukola Tomori-Adeleye, Innovations and Partnership specialist of the organisation said that giving attention to ASRH would equip adolescent girls with the requisite knowledge to make informed decisions to achieve their dreams.
He explained that SFH works in partnership with communities, government, donors and the private sector for universal health coverage and social justice for all.
Ighodo added that SFH implements intervention projects in reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, malaria, maternal, new- born and child health, water purification as well as adolescent sexual reproductive health.
The MD lauded the Nasarawa state government for creating the enabling environment for the implementation of the A360 project in the state.
Also speaking at the meeting, Mrs Anita Elabo, Northern Regional coordinator of SFH, explained that the A360 project focuses on improving the livelihood, sexual and reproductive health of adolescent girls in Nigeria.
She said that the project which began in 2016, was being implemented in eight states – Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Edo, Delta, Kaduna and Nasarawa.
She said that the project designed in partnership with adolescents girls and the communities had two components- “9ja Girls” for the unmarried adolescent girls and “Matasa Matan 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 said that the “Matasa Matan Arewa” component of the project was implemented in Karu and Doma Local Government Areas in Nasarawa state where 10, 032 married adolescent girls were reached with Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services and life building information and skills aquisition.
According to her, 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.
She further explained that SFH engaged male Interpersonal Communication agents (IPCAs) to reach out to the husbands of the adolescent girls in their relaxation spots, to educate and convince them on why their wives should use contraception for safe child birth spacing.
She 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.
She added that the adolescent were also empower through vocational skills acquisition to gain financial freedom and make informed choices.
In his remarks, the state Commissioner for Health, Pharm. Ahmed Yahaya, commended SFH for implementing the project in the state.
Yahaya, represented by the Director for Public Health in the Ministry of Health, Dr Ibrahim Adamu, said the intervention of the SFH in filling the space for development of the adolescent girls in the state, was the first and had encouraged other partners to look in that direction.
He said that the state government would scale up the project to two more Local Government Areas as part of its sustainability plan.
According to him, the government will leverage on the success of the A360 project to further break the cultural and religious barrier to ASRH in the state.
Also, Dr Mohammed Adis, Executive Chairman, Nasarawa Primary Health Care Development Agency (NAPHCA) said the agency was committed to enhance the wellbeing of adolescent girls in the state.
He said that there was already a budgetline for ASRH in the agency’s 2020 budget, saying that it would be sustained.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some of the beneficiaries of the A360 project in the state testified of the benefits at the closeout meeting
Mrs Khadija Mohammed from Doma, said she got married at 15 years and had to undergo Ceasearean Section (CS) for the birth of her child.
She said her husband introduced her to the “Matasa Matan Arewa” programme and they both agreed to adopt a contraceptive method.
She also said that she learnt how to make body cream through the vocational skills acquisition programme.
Mr Tanimu Dahiru said that he heard about the programme from an IPC agent at a relaxation spot and introduced it to his wife, who initially refused but later accepted to visit a health facility to access family services.
He said that the family was living happily and that skills his wife learnt from the programme had improved their livelihood.