Cross-section of participants and stakeholders in the youths and health sector
By Musa Kamara
Health Alert Sierra Leone which is an acclaimed Civil Society Organization (CSO) in collaboration with Youth Action Movement Sierra Leone (YAMSIL) has on Tuesday 29 October 2019 held the first ever Youth and Adolescence Conference on Family Planning (FP) 2020 at the British Council Auditorium, Tower Hill in Freetown and with theme, “Strengthening Youth and Adolescents Voices as a Movement for Investment, Action and Accountability on SRH/Family Planning.”
In his statements, the Executive Director of Health Alert and who is also the Focal Person for FP 2020, Victor Lansana Koroma enlightened that FP 2020 was born out of the 2012 London Summit that paid serious attention to family planning and in which summit Sierra Leone showcase her commitments to family planning and the corresponding challenges in achieving such.
He continued by saying that youths and adolescents are integral players in the promotion and realization of Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) cut short, family planning.
Disclosing also, he said that surveys have proven that the high rate of maternal mortality in the country is amongst adolescents and youths within the age bracket of 12 to 19, a foundation laid by little or no access to contraceptives.
He also said that customs, traditions, and religion, are obstacles to family planning and the health sector, CSO, International Partners, need to do more in such a drive that seems to hold back family planning services.
He emphasized on the need for such a conference that attracted over 100 youths from all the districts in Sierra Leone who merged at the British Council Auditorium to dialogue on the way forward for family planning with institutions such as the Inter-Religious Council, Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), Ministry of Youth Affairs (MOYA), UK Department for International Development (DFID), Plan Parenthood Association of Sierra Leone (PPASL), Marie Stopes, and more.
“At the end of such fruitful deliberation, we hope to come out with a Decision Paper,” he disclosed.
He also urged government to show commitment to the FP2020 as the country set to take part in the International Conference on Population and Development in Nairobi, Kenya come November 2019.
In his keynote address, the Minister of Youth Affairs, Mohamed Orman Bangura emphasized on the need for Sexual Reproductive Health Education which he said changes the narrative of peer group influence and other internet related stuffs that seems to have adverse effect on the reproductive status of young girls.
The Minister called on parents, teachers, religious leaders, community members, etc, to take responsibility in educating young girls about their sexuality and also, he said that without such education, there would be no future for girls and considering the alarming rate of teenage pregnancy and maternal mortality rate.
“The adolescent stage is a very critical moment in time for the girls,” he advised.