28.10.2015 Health

Text messaging, effective channel for adolescents' sexual health

28.10.2015 LISTEN

Accra, Oct 28, GNA - A study under the 'No Yawa' Project of the Marie Stopes International Ghana (MSIG), shows that text and voice messaging and call centres are effective channels for educating adolescents on sexual reproductive health (SRH).

The study dubbed 'No Yawa: Giving voice and choice to Ghanaian adolescents through the provision of comprehensive sexuality education and services', shows that peer-to-peer education and referrals are effective tools for youth programmes.

It also recommends that staff of traditional health service delivery facilities, including public facilities, be trained and supported to offer adolescent-friendly SRH services in a confidential and non-judgmental way to the youth.

Mr Leonard Gobah, Head of Donor Compliance and Delivery, of the Project, said an Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health (ASRH) workshop in Accra, organised by the National Population Council.

Giving a background to the research, Mr Gobah observed that some young people in Ghana had inaccurate understanding and misconception of issues concerning sexual and reproductive health.

He said these result in high unmet need for contraceptives, unplanned pregnancies, and unsafe abortions, suggesting that many young people were not empowered or lacked the knowledge to exert their sexual and reproductive rights.

He said the 'No Yawa' (a Hausa word meaning no problem) project, aimed to create a movement for young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years, based on education and exchange of ideas on SRH issues.

It also seeks to create a platform for access to youth-friendly hospitals/clinics for access to SRH services.

He said the methodology of the research involved MSI-Ghana supporting 298 'No Yawa' accredited youth-friendly centres, including seven MSI-Ghana centres, 157 Ghana Health Service clinics, and 134 BlueStar facilities, with training, equipment and follow-up support.

Mr Gobah said the routine data from these clinics were collected monthly and entered into MSI-Ghana's monitoring and evaluation system; which were then analysed and reports generated for contraceptive uptake by method mix.

He said in 2014, MSI-Ghana promoted 'No Yawa' through school and community activities, resulting in 141,000 young people registering and receiving educational text and voice messages.

He pointed out that the young callers to MSI-Ghana's MarieCall centre had increased from fewer than 1,000 calls in 2013 to 17,583 calls in 2014.

He said through its accredited 'No Yawa' clinics, MSI-Ghana reached 79,189 young people with SRH services in 2014; adding that cumulatively, 93,623 young people had been reached with services since 2013.

According to Mr Gobah, this was achieved through the training of more than 800 health service providers and their support staff from both public and private facilities and equipping facilities to deliver youth friendly services.

He appealed to the government to adopt the project so as to help reach out to more young people on SRH.

Prof Augustine Ankomah of the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, described the adolescent stage as a critical aspect of life.

He said adolescents had no voices, such that someone like the politician and policy makers had to speak for them.

Dr Patrick Aboagye, the Director of Family Health Division, Ghana Health Service, said the Service would in the near future launch the adolescent mobile application to provide relevant information on SRH to people in that bracket.

Marie Stopes International is a civil society organization.