Tema, March 29, GNA - The need to improve reproductive health behaviour among adolescents in Ghana has become the highest challenge, faced by the public unit department of the Ghana Health Service (GHS). This is so because it is believed that, the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) occur among adolescents, making it very necessary for measures to be put in place for its reduction by the GHS, as adolescents constitute a major potential for Ghana's socio-economic development.
Mrs Mildred Ampadu, a senior official of the Tema Regional Public Health Unit made this known in a keynote address at the launch of the 'Adolescent Youth Friendly Services' (AYFS) in Tema, to address some of the concerns of adolescents in the municipality.
She indicated that the 2003 HIV sentinel survey in Ghana recorded 1.9 per cent HIV infection rate in adolescents, aged 15 to 19 years and three per cent among 15 to 24 years age group, making the situation very critical.
Mrs Ampadu said the GHS had realized that, to increase young people's utilization of reproductive health service, there was the need to make its services youth friendly, accounting for the establishment of the AYFS in the Tema General Hospital, Tema Polyclinic and Ashaiman Health Centre.
"Youth friendly services are meant to attract young people and provide them with quality reproductive health services in an environment that is comfortable and responsive to the needs of adolescents" she explained.
She further enlightened that adolescents could access a wide range of reproductive health services and programmes, such as education and counselling among others. Mrs Rosemary Martei, Acting Municipal Director of Health Services in a welcome address stated that adolescent health and development was being promoted by GHS, because it was the period in which health, development and compromising behaviours were evident. She mentioned physical activity patterns, initiating the use of drugs and alcohol, unsafe sexual practices, engaging in violence and drop out from school among others, as some of the compromising behaviours.
Mrs Martei made it known that the AYFS was opened to age groups five years to 24 years, because those in the pre-adolescents have to prepare to enter into adolescence, while the rest need to be supported to enter adulthood.
Some of the students from the basic and second cycle institutions, who attended the launch, advised Ghanaian parents to be able to talk to their children about reproductive health issues. They also appealed to the media to reduce the number of adverts promoting sexual activities, drugs and alcoholism to help curb the pressure on adolescents to try those products out.