Participants at a two day training workshop organized in Bolgatanga by the Presbyterian Health Service-North (PHS-N) have attributed the spate of teenage pregnancies in the Region largely to the lack of Adolescent Reproductive Health Education.
Available statistics show that the Upper East Region has the highest record of teenage pregnancies among the three regions in the North.
The training programme, sponsored by the SIMAVI, a Netherlands based organization, attracted over 250 Health Service providers, drawn from the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to help confront the problem.
Majority of the participants, who were Community Health Nurses, attributed the problem to the lack of Adolescent Reproductive Health Education, and the fact that most of the health facilities were not user friendly because of the attitudes of some service providers towards the youth when they go there for reproductive health services.
They also spoke about the lack of adolescent reproductive health corners, places dedicated to the youth for family planning services and education, lack of contraceptives, discrimination and stigmatization as some of the barriers hindering the youth from accessing reproductive health services at the facilities.
To help confront the problem, the participants advocated for the inclusion of a comprehensive sex education in the school curriculum and at homes.
Mr Ali Baba, the Regional Coordinator of the Millennium Development Goals Accelerated Framework (MAF), noted that some of the GHS facilities in the region did not have adolescent reproductive health corners, and urged that such Services should be integrated into the main health service delivery systems.
He admitted that Adolescent Reproductive health was a major challenge in the Region, and that, the Regional Health Directorate would be organizing its review meeting with the theme “Improving Adolescent Health: The Role of the Community Health Worker” to chart a way forward to see how the issue could be addressed.
“This together with collaboration with the PHS-North will help strengthen the system to address the problem. Now the PHS-North is working in only six out of the thirteen Districts and I urge them to include the rest of the Districts if resources are available”, he said.
Mr Rudolf Abugnaba-Abanga, a programme Manager of the Presbyterian Health Service, who spoke on behalf of the Projects Director, regretted the incidence of teenage pregnancies, teenage pregnancy related deaths, school dropout, STDs and HIV/AIDS infections, among others in the region.
He stressed the need to educate young people about their reproductive health to avoid these health problems, adding that, his outfit was considering collaborating with the Regional Health Directorate, some District Health Management Teams and the Ghana Education Service to integrate Comprehensive Sexuality Education in routine School health.
The Facilitators informed participants that Sexual Reproductive Rights were derived from Human Rights, one of the Conventions of the UN, of which Ghana is a signatory to and impressed upon them to accept young people as sexual beings by ensuring that they had the right to privacy and confidentiality.
Mr Felix Dordaa, one of the facilitators, urged the participants to take into cognizance the reproductive health needs of the youth as health service providers, and that, the essence of the programme was to build the capacity of the health service providers.
Participants were drawn from the Garu –Tempane, Binduri, Pusiga, Builsa North, Nabdam and Talensi Districts.