Foundation advocates youth friendly centres on sexual health
An NGO, Positive Care and Development Foundation (PCDF), has called on the Federal Government to establish youth friendly centres across the country to address the sexual reproductive health of young persons.
Mrs Esse Nwakanma, Executive Director, PCDF, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
She explained that addressing such needs would require a national commitment.
Nwakanma said the establishment of the proposed centres would empower and strengthen the skills of young girls and boys to have control of their sexuality and reproductive health rights.
“About 56 million of more than 170 million people in Nigeria are between the ages of 10 and 24 years old, thus representing one third of the Nigerian population.
“However, their access to sexual reproductive health across the country such as family planning information and services is limited.
“Young people do what adults do then why put them to risk; the need information, which will empower them to make the right choices to keep them safe without any health risk.
“By age 20, majority of young women and men have had sex regardless of their marital status hence the need for parental guidance in educating their young children about sexual health.
“This also calls for national commitment to provide safe places and increase family planning services and contraceptives so that young people can have access to information and services,’’ she said.
According to her, young people deal with internal conflict and concerns which keeps the society in denial of the fact that they have no safe space to speak out.
Nwakanma said adolescents reproductive desires were strongly influenced by social norms and expectations of gender roles, adding that their emotional and psychological well-being keep them stable in all ramifications.
“The belief that a girl’s primary value and role in society is that of a wife and mother can impact greatly on her family planning desires and decisions.
“While the morals related to what is socially acceptable in regards to pre-marital sex in the society, places pressure on boys to engage in sexual activities while the girls remain pure.
“The immense pressure that social norms and expectations places on the girls could constrain their ability to understand and exercise their rights to make decisions about their sexual health on contraceptives,’’ she said.
She emphasised that investing in adolescent’s sexual reproductive health and family planning has the potential to transform the society.
The executive director added that when young people are healthy, educated and empowered, they become productive and effective leaders which in turn have a ripple effect on their peers and society.