The Women’s Health and Action Research Centre (WHARC) attended a one day meeting of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Senior Experts Board with stakeholders on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights/ Family Planning at the Public Service Training Institute Ilara- mokin, Ondo State on Wednesday 29th , 2018. The objective of the meeting was to:
- Present and discuss key findings from a policy paper on Improving Access to Sexual Reproductive Health and Right/Family Planning, Information and Services for Young People, A policy paper developed by the UNFPA Senior Expert Board.
- Identify and expand key findings of the policy paper by the stakeholders.
The opening address was presented by the UNFPA acting country representative Dr Eugene Kongnyuy who was represented by Dr. (Mrs) Titilola Duro-Aina. She commended the UNFPA Senior Expert Board for developing the policy paper which identified the challenges young people face currently in the country and in bringing young people to the front burner. She highlighted that it was of high note that young people are faced with serious health challenges including HIV infection, and girls were disproportionately affected; also millions of youth die tragically or suffer because of preventable health hazards including drug abuse. She enjoined everyone to share best practices and experiences in the field of SRH which will contribute to the draft document.
The chairman, UNFPA Senior Expert Board Dr. (Mrs) Kechi Obuagu delivered a presentation of the draft policy paper which revealed that interventions to curb the sexual and reproductive health challenges faced by young people are delivered with low intensity and for a short duration due to limited resources and lack of sustainability; quite a large number of adolescents are not adequately reached; Ineffective interventions have been continually repeated by Governments and CSOs and also, proven effective interventions are implemented ineffectively.
The expert board Identified 3 factors that co-exist to ensure access to SRH/FP information and services to young people. She stated that this factors need to be implemented in a sustainable manner and the factors include:
- A sustained and positive policy and programme environment
- Efficient, effective and sustained availability of appropriate SRH/FP information to young people
- Access to quality, affordable gender and culturally sensitive services for young people.
On ‘‘Increasing Access To Quality Sexual And Reproductive Health For Young People: Ondo State Experience’’ (2010-2016) the guest speaker, His Excellency, former governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko while delivering the key note address, commended the efforts of UNFPA in the support of Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ASRH&R). He also talked extensively on the importance of effective and efficient leadership in driving a result focused project. He stated that the strategic innovative approach in achieving improved ASRH&R should be high level advocacy to political class/policy makers, creation of competitiveness, integration of new innovations into existing structures such as traditional beliefs, collaboration of public, private, NGO sectors, and strengthen monitoring and evaluation of projects. He also highlighted that task sharing and proper delegation of roles is paramount in executing result driven and evidence based project.
The Program advisor Women’s Health and Action Research Centre (WHARC) Prof. Friday Okonofua also gave a laudable remark on the selfless effort of the former governor in achieving remarkable projects in Ondo State. He thanked His Excellency for his good exemplary leadership and urge participants to learn from it. He concluded by saying that leadership is not about position but action.
There were three (3) working groups, each group comprising of nine persons worked on the draft policy paper on improving access to Adolescents Sexual Reproductive Health & Rights/Family Planning Information and Services for the Young developed by the UNFPA Senior Expert Board. At the end of the section each working group presented their findings and comments, questions and answers followed. Projects on the physical challenged youth was encouraged, targeting young adults in hard to reach areas, use of technology such as mobile apps to disseminate SRH/FP information, creation of young adult social clubs in schools and primary health facilities, Edutainments and musical concert are some of the recommendation from the practical session. It was also revealing from the group exercise that government commitment, parents’ involvement and relevant stakeholder’s involvement will improve sustainability of SRH/FP services and information.
In attendance was the ex-governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, Vice Chancellor of University of Medical Sciences, Ondo State -Professor Friday Okonofua, representatives of UNFPA, Ondo State Ministry of Health, Ondo State Ministry of Education, Civil Society Groups/NGOs, youths and students.