Written by Ijeoma UKAZU

Adolescents Early Planning, Key To Better Life

In our society, planning a family is attributed to couples but studies have shown that, planning early in life even as an adolescent will curb unplanned pregnancy, reduce maternal mortality as a result of unsafe abortions.

Young people need not just family planning but also life planning as it encompasses sexuality education contraceptives and life skills needed to make informed choices and life decision.

Adolescence by definition is a transition between childhood and adulthood which requires special attention and protection. It is a period although no longer considered a child, the young person is not considered an adult either.

During a one-day sensitization program in Lagos, the Youth Program Officer for Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI), Bless-me Ajani, while giving her presentation on "An Overview Of NURHI 2 Life Planning For Adolescents And Youths" said, "Life Planning For Adolescents And Youth, (LPAY), is focused on increasing demand for family planning knowledge and services and promoting sexual responsibility among adolescents and youths to ensure young people make informed decision about their reproductive health.

"LPAY is strategically designed to respond to the Reproductive Health need of young people and address current challenges facing young people access to Contraceptives.

"LPAY helps young people to understand how their bodies work and equip them with information and life skill to make informed decision about their reproductive health."

Ajani also added that it is however imperative that there should be improved quality of services by fostering an in-clinic environment that facilitates family planning, training providers in counseling and contraceptive provision, developing and disseminating the tools that enhance quality services as well as expanding access to youth friendly services (in- reach and out- reach services for young people).

Statistics from 2013 National Demographic Health Survey has shown that about 55 precent of the total population of Nigeria is under 20 years according to 2006 census.

Proportion of male adolescents engaging in unprotected sex is 48 percent while female is 56percent. Also, the proportion of sexually active adolescents using male condom, male 20percent while female 29percent.

The proportion of young women aged 15 to19 years and have begun child bearing are 29 percent. The use of any modern FP methods by young people aged 15 to19, male 9.4 percent while female 4.8 percent. Use of any modern family planning method by young people aged 20 to 24, male 36.6 percent while female 13.2 percent.

However, latest facts shows that 15.6 percent of women aged 15 to 19 had had sex at 15 years of age and approximately, 610,000 unsafe abortions occur yearly. 72 percent of deaths among teenagers below 19 years are due to unsafe abortion. A million births yearly are due to teenage mothers. 70 percent of women age 20 to 24 has had sex before 20 years.

 

However, there are barriers to adolescents contraception and they include; ignorance, cultural, traditional and religious bias, media bias, policy barrier, community structure that tends to be bias towards unmarried and sexually active youth, unfriendly public health facility and provider bias, as well as the clinical private sector which is the largest source of information flow to young people but it's not free.

The high risk sexual behaviour among this rapidly growing young people in this fast changing world is responsible for the increasing teenage pregnancies, out to of school girls, child dumping, post abortion complications, infant mortality and considerable health risk resulting in high maternal deaths and morbidities.

However, more than half of these young people are not using any method of contraception due to lack of adequate information and access to quality reproductive health and life planning services.

A family Planing Expert, Dr Moriam Olaide Jagun, Senior Program Officer of Palladium TSU (Technical Support Unit) and currently working with the Lagos State Ministry of Health to implement family planning program in the state said, "for every dollar spent on family planning, six dollars is been saved for the country and these six dollars can be used to do other things in the health system."

Commenting on family planning providers not giving needed attention to adolescents seeking FP commodities, Dr. Jagun attributed the situation to not having the right policy in place to address the issue.

She however acknowledged that most people have knowledge about family planning but that knowledge need to transcend from awareness to usage, adding that people who are using family planning commodities should be advocates as it will help increase uptake.

 

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