As part of moves to curb the high rate of teenage pregnancy, chiefs and elders in the Gomoa traditional area in the Central Region have placed a curfew on children below eighteen (18) years.
The move, according to Nana Edu Effrim X, the Odikoro of the Gomoa traditional area, will help salvage the situation where children between the ages of ten (10) and seventeen (17) engage in early unprotected and unwanted sexual activity as a result of inadequate parental supervision,
particularly at nights.
Speaking at a youth forum organized by Health Keepers Network, Nana said, the pride of the Central Region which used to be education had now been overtaken by the rise of pregnancy; a shameful situation which is of great concern to the chiefs and elders in the area.
The Youth programme which was organized in collaboration with the Gomoa West District Education and the District Health Directorates brought together over 500 youth, parents, teachers and community members to deliberate on adolescent sexual and reproductive health issues.
As part of efforts to help address the current situation in the area, Health Keepers Network, (HKN) an Accra based NGO by USAID introduced its youth centered programme known as the Youth link Up Program in the area when concerns about the alarming rate of teenage pregnancy were raised by the chiefs and elders at a Family Planning and HIV prevention outreach organized by the NGO earlier
According to HKN’s Executive Director, Mr. Daniel Mensah, the initiative, dubbed the Adolescent Reproductive Health Programme aimed at promoting knowledge and understanding of adolescent needs for Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) information and contraception amongst adolescents, parents, influential community leaders and other stakeholders.
He said it was also part of their objectives to promoting behavior change and safer sexual practices and as well, increase access to contraceptives among young people through various outlets in the communities.
In an interview with this reporter, Mr Mensah noted that “HKN realizing that sexual and reproductive health is important to the development of the youth into adulthood organized the outreach in the district to educate and improve the knowledge of youth on their reproductive health rights so as to prevent unwanted pregnancies, teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and loss of lives
through unsafe abortion practices.
“HKN greatly values its partnerships with the Chiefs and Elders of the Gomoa traditional area, the District Healt Management team and the District Assembly for not only embracing our program but coming out in their numbers to support the program. The adolescent reproductive health program, with USAID funding support, will be sustained in the Gomoa district and extended to other districts in the Central region and other parts of the country in phases", he affirmed.
Addressing the media, Dr. Luiz Amoussou the District Director of Health Services for Gomoa West said the 2014 Demographic and Health survey (GDHS) revealed that teenagers in the Central region started child bearing earlier than other teenagers. Although still high, he said the number of teenage pregnancies recorded in the area has been reducing gradually over the past three years, from 910 in 2013 to 760 in 2014 and 313 from January to May (as against 464 in 2013 and 390 in 2014 over the same period). Dr. Luis Amoussou commended Health Keepers Network for implementing adolescent reproductive health interventions and Family planning and HIV prevention programmes in the area and said it was a laudable contribution towards curbing the situation.
Nana Kofi Asanhoma (V), the Odikuro of Gomoa Akyempim, on his part also reiterated his commitment to helping curb the menace. Addressing the youth and other dignitaries at the program, Nana stressed the need on the part of the teenagers to focus on their future goals rather than emulating the behavior of bad friends. “Apart from parental carelessness, one other area you should be mindful of is bad friends who may want to corrupt you with their immoral lifestyles…always know that you are on the safer side when you focus on your studies rather than falling for cheap material gains”, he noted.
He said he had in consultation with the chiefs and elders o the Gomoa traditional area mapped out the ‘curfew’ strategy and hoped that parents would supervise and monitor the behavior of their teenagers.
The District Chief Executive (DCE), for the area, Hon. Theophilus Aidoo-Mensah also commended Health Keepers Network, and further called for collaborative support from other stakeholders to assist in fulfilling the NGO’s admirable agenda.
He said “this will improve the wellbeing of our children who are the future leaders of this nation. He added that “the success of the Health Keepers Network’s programme will largely depend on us as parents, teachers and opinion leaders in the area”.
In a speech read on his behalf by a representative, Daniel Baah Tenkorang, the DCE further appealed to parents, to use their resources judiciously towards preparing their wards for the future by investing in their education.
The District’s Director of Education Mr. Peter Amankrah, also on his part admonished the youth to desist from emulating unscrupulous behavior from friends and also urged parents to give their wards the necessary support, towards achieving their academic goals.