Health Youth Involvement in friendly centres, key to contraceptive uptake...

Youth Involvement in friendly centres, key to contraceptive uptake By Ijeoma Ukazu

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In order to increase contraceptive acceptability by young people in various youth centres in Lagos state, stakeholders have called on the state government to assist in eliminating all forms of contraception barriers by involving the youths in these centres.

This was made known recently in Lagos at an event organised by Public Health Sustainable Advocacy Initiative, (PHSAI) with support from Pathfinder International to mark the World Contraception Day 2019.

To eliminate all forms of contraception barriers encountered by young people as a means to improve their health outcomes, the Chairman, Life Planning for Adolescents And Youths, (LPAY), Abiodun Ajayi highlighted some issues hindering young peoples access to contraception as; unfriendly youth centres, provider bias, lack of maintenance of Hello Lagos Centres, amongst others.

Ajayi, said only 38.4 percent of women aged 20-24 who are in marriage or union are currently using a contraceptive method while 12.3 percent of those women have an unmet need for family planning.

He said the high risk of sexual behaviour among young people is responsible for the increasing teenage pregnancy, out of school girls, baby dumping, post abortion complications and deaths.

Making family planning accessible to young people, Ajayi said will in great measure curb these issues.

Also speaking at the event, the Chairman of PHSAI, Barrister Ayo Adebusoye said the government of Lagos state especially the Ministry of Health has put steps to eliminate contraception barriers among young people, adding that it will in great measure increase uptake.

Adebusoye noted that the allocation of N29,840,000 in the 2019 budget provides for the establishment of four Youth Friendly Centres at Higher institutions across the state.

He said, the state also do follow up visits to rape victims and the physical abused, maintenance of Hello Lagos Centers, termly mentoring sessions on safe sex education to students in public secondary schools and provision of incentives (e.g. Sanitary pads, game tools, etc.) for student in secondary schools

According to Adebusoye, “Despite this promising development, Adolescents and Youths Sexual Reproductive Health (AYSRH) Response is still largely donor dependent while inter-ministerial cooperation is almost non-existent”

He added that the situation where many of the Youth-Friendly centres still expects clients to pay for consumables to access certain commodities or do not even have provision for varieties of modern contraceptives except condoms cannot promote increase contraception in young population.

Adebusoye also listed, some of the other issues hindering access includes: Lack of access to adequate, accurate life planning information and services, Lack of youth friendly health facilities, provider bias and Poor knowledge of contraceptive options and benefits among others.

He noted also “Though the policy provides for provision of reproductive health services, it was not explicit on access to contraceptives or family planning services”.

The Chief Youths Development Officer, Ministry of Youths and Social Development, Mrs. Rasheedat Umar observed the gaps in collaboration between the ministries of Health and Youths is capable of deepening the barriers to contraception uptake among young people.

According to Umar, “the two ministries have independent programmes for young people and do not have collaboration model on budgeting for joint programmes”.

Also speaking, Communications Officer Pathfinder International, Somto Atuanya however stated how the international body has succeeded in empowering 12 state governments to push the agenda of preventing contraception barriers through ensuring access to various family planning commodities .

Atuanya pleaded that more state governments endeavour to eliminate contraception barriers that hinder positive health outcomes among young people, “especially through timely releases of budgets for FP commodities”.

Other stakeholders at the meeting also canvassed inclusion of people living with disabilities in programmes that are developed for sexual reproductive health of young people.

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