Stakeholders of adolescent health in Tema have called on the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to intensify sensitization and education on the Girls Iron Folic Acid Tablets Supplementation (GIFTS) programme to increase its acceptability among the target population.
The stakeholders made the call during a consultative meeting towards the implementation of a new intervention being introduced by the GHS named, "Peer Support Service Providers Initiative" (PSSPI), which is aimed at using adolescent peer health providers to reach out to other adolescent within their vicinity.
The stakeholders are made up of representatives of adolescents, adolescent health providers, traditional leaders, Ghana Education Service (GES), the media, Department of Social Welfare and Community Development.
Others are; religious organizations, assembly members, and DOVVSU among others said the lack of information on the GIFTS intervention was making it difficult for people to partake in it.
"We were told by our parents that the schools are giving us contraceptives, others too said it's for rituals, so we shouldn't take, we therefore plead with the GES and GHS to educate our parents more on it so they will allow us to take," an adolescent stressed.
Others also said "do more education on GIFTS, as some parents are stopping their children from taking the tablets due to lack of knowledge."
They also asked the GHS to extend the service to slum areas in the Metropolis such as Community 3,000 and 5,000 as those areas have a large population of adolescents who could benefit from the intervention.
Mrs Agartha Adrah, School Health Education Programme (SHEP) Coordinator for the Tema Metropolitan Education Directorate, on her part said education on the initiative had been intensified especially among the in-school adolescents to dispel some false impression about the GIFTS.
Mrs Adrah noted that they used to have some issues with implementation at Tema Manhean but with the help of the traditional authorities through the organization of a durbar, residents accepted the initiative and asked their children to partake in it.
The SHEP Coordinator said those who were on the tablet had attest to its benefits especially in relations to their monthly menstruation cycle.
Ms Sandra Owusu, a Nutrition Officer at the Tema Metropolitan Health Directorate throwing light on the GIFTS, said the programme was a collaborative initiative between GHS, GES and the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and other key partners to weekly provide iron and folic acid supplements to adolescents who were either in or out of school.
Ms Owusu indicated that during adolescence, there was rapid growth and development which required more blood, coupled with monthly loss of blood due to menstruation necessitated the administering of the GIFTS as iron and folic acid were two important nutrients needed to form and replace lost blood to prevent anaemia.
The Folic and Iron tablets are provided for the girls in Junior and Senior High Schools as well as Vocational and Technical Training Institutes every Wednesday after the mid-day meal throughout the school term with supervision from their teachers.
Adolescent girls out of school including apprentice, are provided a monthly supply of the tablet at a health facility within their localities for them to take weekly on Wednesday after taking their mid-day meals.