THE Action Health Incorporated (AHI) has called on Lagos State Government to provide to make Primary Health Centres (PHCs) youth-friendly to reduce unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and sexually transmitted infections.
The AHI Project Coordinator, Miss Funso Bukoye, made the appeal on Saturday in Lagos at a meeting on Expanding Young People’s Access to Youth-Friendly Health Services (YFHS).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that AHI is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting young people’s health and development to ensure their successful transition to healthy and productive adulthood.
Bukoye said that findings by AHI at Iwaya and Ilaje Primary Health Centres in Lagos revealed that many young people engaged in risky sexual behaviour due to lack of information on sexual and reproductive health.
She claimed that judgmental attitudes of healthcare service providers, socio-cultural norms, adolescents’ own fear and shame, disapproval from parents and community gate-keeping contributed to adolescents’ inaccessibility of health information and services.
“Risky sexual behaviour among young people is increasing, especially in Lagos with a population of over 20 million people, of which at least 30 percent are between the ages of 10 and 24 years.
“These adolescents deserve high-quality healthcare services that are devoid of criticism or unwelcoming attitudes that can keep them away.”
“Involvement in multiple sexual partnerships reduced from 56.1 percent to 48.5 percent among 500 youths involved in AHI project intervention in Iwaya and Ilaje-Bariga communities.”
“Young people who answered HIV-related questions correctly increased from 43 percent to 57 percent, young people who will go to PHC to access YFHS increased from 18 percent to 34.6 percent,’’ she said.
The coordinator said that forty-eight percent of youths had access to health education, 21 percent accessed sexual and reproductive health services and 31 percent accessed general health services at the facilities,” she said.
Bukoye called for comprehensive sexuality education and more integration of youth-friendly health care services at primary healthcare facilities to reach young people including those in remote areas.
Mrs Adenike Esiet, Executive Director of AHI, said that there should be capacity building and on-the-job training for healthcare providers to effectively deliver youth-friendly health care services.
“The world is changing, and these young ones are exposed to so much information and peer pressure; we need professionals that will educate these young ones without criticism.”
“If the attitude of our healthcare service providers does not improve, these young ones will not confide in us; they will lie that they want to treat malaria or a headache as against getting contraceptive or treatment for infections,” she said.
The Permanent-Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Youths and Social Development, Mr Hakeem Muri-Okunola, said that the state government would collaborate with stakeholders to ensure that youths would be effectively developed to live a healthy life.
Dr Olufemi Onanuga, Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Primary Health Care, said that the government was committed to the healthy development of the youth.
He said that more youth-friendly health centres would be provided in the state.