The Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana (YHFG), a Non-Governmental youth focus organisation in Bolgatanga, has launched adolescent reproductive health education programme in two Districts of the Upper East Region.
The launch, done in the Talensi and Kassena-Nankana West Districts, aims at empowering young people to make informed decisions concerning their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights as they transition into adulthood.
The YHFG in its quest to achieve its vision to develop a self-reliant and sufficient youth living in a more equal, healthy and prosperous society, is implementing a five-year project dubbed: "Sexual Health Education Advocacy Project (SHEAP).
" Speaking at the launch of the programme at Kayoro, a community in the Kassena-Nankana West District, Ms Khadija Hamidu, the Sexual Health Education Advocacy Project Officer of the YHFG, said the project started in 2018 in Ghana.
She said the project's objective was to produce the necessary data and evidence to support the Ghana Education Service to adopt and implement Reproductive Health Education in basic and high schools.
"According to the Population and Housing Census report, a little less than a quarter of all persons in Ghana in 2010 were adolescents aged between 10 to 19 years.
"This is made up of about 12 per cent and 11 per cent respectively, of the 10 to 14 and 15 to 19 year olds, and is a further confirmation of how young the Ghanaian population is," she said.
Ms Hamidu noted that a large percentage of the age group lack access to sexual and reproductive health services or information which had translated into the high rates of teenage pregnancies in the country.
She said a 2018 Ghana Health Service report indicated that "The Region's teenage pregnancy rate of 15.
8 per cent, far exceeded the national rate of 12 per cent.
The Region's Child Marriage rate of 28 per cent also exceeds the national figure of 19 per cent, Ghana Statistical Service (GSS 2018).
" Ms Augustina Dechegme Achigibah, an Officer of the Project, who addressed participants at the launch, said even though the it sought to support the implementation of Reproductive health in schools, the temporal closure of schools due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, had compelled the YHFG to introduce an out-of-school Reproductive Health Education (RHE) programme for adolescents in 10 communities in the two Districts.
She said the RHE programme would provide accurate Sexual Reproductive Health information to adolescent clubs through trained ambassadors or peer educators and nurses, to enable them make informed decisions on issues of child marriage, teenage pregnancy, Sexually Transmitted Infections, and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).
"The programme is also expected to keep adolescents engaged during this period when they are home and exposed to risky sexual behaviours and sexual exploitation," Ms Achigibah added.
In a statement read on his behalf, Pe Oscar Tiyiamo Batabi, the Paramount Chief of the Kayoro Traditional area, urged parents to build cordial and friendly relationships between their adolescent children to enable them freely share their problems.
He thanked the YHFG for the initiative to launch the project in his community.
Ms Sarah Kudewuyie, a trained Ambassador of the programme at Kayoro who shared her experience with the Ghana News Agency, said she underwent a three-day intensive training on reproductive health and effects of early child marriage, causes and effects of teenage pregnancy.
"We were taught to sensitize our community members on how to treat adolescents who unfortunately get pregnant.
We were also introduced to our community nurses and shown adolescent centres, where we visit for games and education concerning our health.