‘Don’t deny adolescents right to sexual reproductive health information’

Parents have been urged not to deny adolescents the right to information on their Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH).

Participants who made the call at a workshop in Accra yesterday said, it was time a “spade is called a spade”, adding that reproductive health was critical in upbringing of adolescents

“We need guided information for them, they will get the information from somewhere not appropriate, and might lead them astray,” they said.

They raised the concerns at an engagement meeting on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) education programme held in Accra.

Addressing participants, Dr Adom Manu, Senior Lecturer, School of Public Health, University of Ghana, said SRH was the “state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality and not merely absence of disease.”

“Sexuality education is not bad but to help young people develop knowledge, autonomy and skills in communication and decision making,” he said.

According to Dr Manu the adolescents needed information and skills, safe and supportive environment, health and counselling services to smoothly migrate from adolescents to adulthood.

“Most parents do not know what their adolescents outside home, most of them are not comfortable asking questions about SRH because Communication is often not clear between parents and their wards,” he said.

Dr Manu further said safer sex practice, positive change in attitude and knowledge about reproductive health were as a result of sexual education.

He called on parents to avoid  using warnings and threats when communicating about sex to their wards.

Mrs  Adjoa Nyanteng, Programme Specialist, Adult and Youth,  United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), advised parents to break the barriers that  separated them from their wards which prevented them from asking  about sexual education.

Madam Anne Coolen from Marie Stopes International said the number of teenage pregnancies in 2020 based on District Health Information Management System data was over 100,000 including almost 3,000 girls between 10 and 14- years- old.

She was optimistic that if the girls had had knowledge in reproductive health education, the number of teenage pregnancies could have reduced significantly.

She said her outfit over the years, had worked to ensure women and girls realise their full potential in decision making concerning their reproductive health.

“Their curiosity and their questions about many things in life, including their bodies, how babies get into tummies and other curious questions, makes me realize we need to inform them appropriately with information that is adapted to their age,” she said.

Madam Coolen said the adolescents would build their own truth based on potential myths and misconceptions from their friends who might also not have access to the right information, hence the need to educate them.

The Director of Guidance and Counselling at the Ghana Education Service, Mrs Ivy Kumi expressed worry about how the public rejected the “Age Appropriate Comprehensive Sexuality Education” document in 2019 intended to educate the adolescents about SRH.

“Just before we were about completing it, the general public  stood up against it and I believe that is why we are where we are today with teenage pregnancies,” She said


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