The Upper East Regional Director of the Department of Children, Ms Georgina Aberese-Ako, has attributed the high incidence of adolescent reproductive health challenges to increasing parental neglect and lack of effective communication among many families.
She observed that most parents shirk their responsibilities as mentors and guardians to their children and did not pay the desired attention to the growth, development and progression of their children.
This, she added, often expose the children, particularly girls to peer influence and it had adversely affected their future, leading to some getting pregnant, committing abortion and dropping out of school.
The Regional Director made the observation in Bongo when the Departments of Gender and Children under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection engaged selected parents on the implementation of the Parents Advocacy Movement (PAM) to address reproductive health challenges confronting adolescents, particularly girls.
PAM, which is part of a three-year advocacy project with funding support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), is being implemented in six districts across the region including Bongo, Kassena-Nankana West, Bawku West, Builsa South, Talensi and Nabdam Districts.
The implementation is being carried out in collaboration the Girl Child Education Unit of the Ghana Education Service (GES).
The Regional Director revealed the Upper East and Northern Regions topped the national table with 28 per cent when it came to child marriages, and attributed the cause to lack of effective communication between parents and children that would enable children to learn more about their reproductive health rights and issues.
Madam Aberese-Ako explained that the critical development period of girls was between 10 and 18 years, and added that parents and other stakeholders therefore needed to play crucial roles in order to prevent them from making wrong choices and destroying their future.
She called on parents to be more concerned about the progress of their adolescent children, especially girls and offer them the needed advice to enable them abstain from early sex, early marriages, child labour as well as teenage pregnancies.
The Acting Upper East Regional Director of the Department of Gender, Mr James Twene, stated that the whole objective of the project is to contribute to the elimination of socio-cultural barriers to reproductive health rights as well as prevent teenage pregnancies and child marriages.
As part of the advocacy and education strategies the departments with support from UNFPA have engaged 144 parents in the six districts on the effective ways of communicating to their wards who replicate the knowledge to their colleagues in their various communities.
He added 35 traditional rulers and 720 men and boys were trained and empowered with the knowledge to help curb the phenomena confronting adolescents, while 360 adolescent girls were also mentored.
FROM SAMUEL AKAPULE, BONGO