By Paul Adunwoke
Experts have charged the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir E-Rufai to prioritise adolescent girls’ sexual and reproductive health, especially now, as this will mitigate some of the barriers they face and help them work towards the future .
The experts noted that there was need for building youth-friendly health services and increase access to primary health centres in communities. The experts made the call at the Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs and Challenges Today in the Era of COVID-19, media roundtable organised by Society for Family Health (SFH) in collaboration with Kaduna State Primary Health Care Development Agency and Kaduna State COVID-19 Task Force.
However, SFH Northern Regional Coordinator, A360 Project, Anita Elabo, said challenges facing adolescent girls in the country included COVID-19 pandemic, which is affecting mobilisation and service delivery, fluctuation of commodity supply to health facilities, weak social economic support, among others.
She stated that rape cases are reported, but authorities do nothing, making the girls feel powerless, vulnerable and scared. She noted that unsafe abortion is a major contributor to the country’s high levels of maternal death, ill health and disability, as girls who get pregnant often resort to unsafe abortions because of the shame of pregnancy outside marriage and the desire to continue their education.
Kaduna State Commissioner for Health, Amina Baloni, said without economic opportunities or support from parents, girls often turn to men and sex for money and gifts. She lamented that after secondary school, there is no clear path to higher education or jobs for girls and inability to fend for themselves makes them vulnerable to accept undue advances from men.