In a bid to commemorate this year’s International Adolescent Health Week, IAHW, the state government, through the Rivers State Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, paid a sensitization visit to Rumueme Girls Secondary School, in Port Harcourt, to create awareness around adolescent health issues.
The programme which is slated to run from March 20 to 26, 2022, with the theme, “Transitions” from childhood to adulthood, physically and mentally, from a pre-pandemic life into a life shaped by a pandemic, from dependence to independence, is expected to inspire adolescent and their communities to advocate for a successful transition into adulthood.
According to report, International Adolescent Health Week, celebrated the 3rd full week in March yearly, is a grass-roots initiative for young people, their health care providers, their teachers, their parents, their advocates and their communities to come together and celebrate young people and with an ultimate goal of working collectively towards improving the health and well-being of the over 1 billion adolescents across the globe today.
Addressing newsmen during the awareness visit, the adolescent desk officer, ministry of health, Mrs. Wokoma Mbreba said “the essence of the celebration, “this week precisely 20th to 26th of March is International Adolescent Health Week, it’s a week set aside globally to create awareness around adolescent health issues.
“Adolescent are one group of people you may think are not important, are not relevant, but globally, a week has been set aside to create sensitization, to tell the world how important this group of persons are, ofcourse, they are the future leaders, so this week we are creating sensitization among the adolescent, among our parents, among the community, what the adolescents are.”
Mbreba also spoke on the decoration of Catherine Dansi from Gokana Local Government Area, and Okwua Ezekiel, by the permanent secretary, Ministry of Health, Rivers State, Dr. Mrs. Utchay Ndidi Chikanele, as Youth Champions of the year, 2022.
According to her, “they are decorated because when we met them initially, we spoke with them as adolescents, they took it upon themselves, went into their communities, engaging youths, organizing seminars for them, some are depressed, some are engaged in drug abuse, they are encouraged that they don’t need to die that there is life hereafter, they need to speak out, seek help and most of them are speaking out.
“For the girls that have sexually transmitted infections, they are been brought close, talked to and referred to health facilities where they go and access service and they are happy.”
Mrs. Mbreba also spoke on the provisions from the Rivers State Ministry of Health for the adolescent, she said, “in all the local government, we have about 324 health facilities, and all these 324 health facilities provide adolescent friendly services, and those health care providers are trained to provide friendly facilities which they do across the LGA.”
A representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, Dr. Audu Anselem in an interview shortly after the awareness said, “UNICEF, we tried to ensure that the Nigeria government adopted a theme for this year’s adolescent health week, which is building a case for the visibility of adolescent in Nigeria, while transitioning from pre-pandemic to a life shaped by the pandemic.
“At UNICEF we want to encourage stakeholders to create an avenue and platform for the engagement of adolescent whenever policy surrounding adolescent health, decision is going to be taken, like the adage that says you cannot barb my hair without me been present, so, we want to ensure that appropriate information on adolescent is passed on to the adolescent to inform change in behavior and healthy practices. We can only do this by the engagement of adolescent and also engaging the policy makers.”
Also, in an exclusive interview, a pharmacist, who was recently elected as a global co-lead of the International Adolescent Health Week, Wendy Wokoma told TNN in an interview that, “we don’t talk to just teenagers, you know teenage age starts from 13, but we have from 10 to 19. What we are trying to achieve is to build the case of visibility for adolescent health, visibility because they have not really been visible.
“There are issues like mental health that has not been brought to the fore, are now in the fore, and don’t forget we have adolescents living with disabilities, so we are looking at integrating all these because they are the future, and it has been shown over and over that an investment in our adolescent has triple dividends. You invest in them now for today, for tomorrow when they are adult and then for the generation that they will bring to birth.”
Others who were present during the kick off of the International Adolescent Health Week were the coordinator of Safe Motherhoood, Mrs. Dabota Captain, a representative of SGBV, Rivers State Ministry of Health, Mrs. Obisike Mary, a representative of Rivers State Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs Caroline Uwhor.