Adolescent Girls: NGO Advocates Safe Spaces in Kaduna, Meet Health Commissioner
By Uangbaoje Alex, Kaduna
As part of efforts at creating safe spaces for adolescent girls to have access to appropriate information on sexual and health in Kaduna State, an NGO, Hope for the Village Child Foundation (HVCF), supported by Rise up for Girls, Women and Youth on Tuesday visited the Commissioner for Health in the State, calling on the government to make provisions for such services.
The NGO is currently implementing a project “Advocating for Safe Spaces for Adolescent Girls to Access Information on Sexual and Reproductive Health” in three communities in Chikun Local Government Areas of the State.
The project aims to reduce cases of adolescents girls school drop out as a result of pregnancy related issues. To reduce the rate of sexually transmitted diseases and to also increase access to the right information on sexual and reproductive health issues for the adolescent girl.
The Commissioner, Dr. Amina Muhammad-Balori, after listening to the team on the purpose of their visit, commended them for their effort, pledging that the ministry will collaborate with them.
She disclosed that there is work going on by the State Aids Control Agency (KADSACA), about HIV/AIDS which incorporates awareness as part of its component and advised that HVCF pay a visit to them to see how such information could be integrated at those centres.
To avoid the duplication of efforts and for better use of resources, in creating such space on its own, she advised that the advocacy team pay a visit to KADSACA to discuss how it could be integrated with their other programs already in existence.
“I also know that there is an adolescent focal person at the Primary Healthcare Development Agency, she coordinates the youths friendly health services, she is the most appropriate person. You need to discuss with her and find out what is on ground and how a safe space for adolescent girls to access the right information on sexual and reproductive health could be integrated in their existing activities as this job is not for ministry of health alone. She noted.
The Commissioner however, urged mothers to step up their game by making sure their daughters have appropriate information about sex, menstrual period and what to do at appropriate age.
Earlier, Education Coordinator, Hope for the Village Child Foundation, Ruth Barrera, who led the team, told their host that they were in her office to see how government can help in providing a space where young girls will be comfortable to share and get appropriate information about sexual and reproductive health.
According to her, a research they carried out showed that a high number of adolescent girls who got pregnant was as a result of wrong information on sexual and reproductive health from their friends.
“A great number of them often face scarcity of basic knowledge about sexuality and sexual reproductive health services, a meeting with 70 randomly selected adolescent girls from Chikun Local Government Area in revealed that the inability of these girls to access the right information on sexual and reproductive health resulted in their use of substances like an overdose of Panadol dissolved in lacasera.
“A large amount of salt dissolved either in Pepsi or bitter leaf extract, mahogany extract commonly called “madachi” as measures to prevent pregnancies. She said.
Mrs. Barrera, added that alongside changes in the body of these adolescent girls comes new vulnerable human rights abuses, especially in the area of sexuality, childbearing etc, noting that 70% of adolescent girls in the LGA are already sexually active.