Tina Mensah, Deputy Minister of Health, has stated that government is committed to improving the mental, nutritional and, sexual and reproductive health of adolescents and young people in Ghana.
Speaking at the maiden edition of the Marie Stopes Youth Advisory Board Parliament on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) which took place recently at the Parliament house in Accra, Tina Mensah said Ghana’s high teenage pregnancy and adolescent child bearing rates – which is currently at 14.2percent– is a great concern to the government of Ghana.
The Marie Stopes Youth Advisory Board Parliamentary debate on SRHR which was on the topic ‘Adolescent Sexual and Reproduction Health and Rights (ASRHR) Financing for Ghana Beyond Aid’ was put together by the Marie Stopes Ghana Youth Advisory Board.
According to Madam Mensah, the Ministry of Health, through its implementing agency, the Ghana Health Service, has also developed a costed adolescent health service policy and strategy to help improve the mental, nutritional and sexual and reproductive health of adolescents and young people.
“Ghana’s high teenage pregnancy and adolescent child bearing rates which stands at 14.2 percent and 66/1000 adolescents respectively, are a great concern to the government of Ghana.
Indeed, at the recent inauguration of the National Population in March 2019, the President of the Republic, Nana Akufo-Addo, lamented the high fertility rate among girls who should ordinary be in school and charged the National Population Council to work with all the relevant institutions to drastically reduce teenage pregnancy,” she said.
She added: “As a country therefore, we are showing clear commitment to transforming our adolescent and youth human resource into human capital, by investing in the three priority areas for human capital development –health, education and employment. These are the guarantees to reaping demographic dividend.”
The Deputy Minister observed that prioritizing adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) is therefore a step in the right direction for any government.
“In the end, our adolescents and young people are our insurance for the future as a country. I wish to assure the good young people of our country of government’s support in this regard, and look forward to receiving inputs from the young people themselves today, as part of this ‘youth parliament’ event, on how best we can proceed on the journey of achieving ‘SRHR financing beyond Aid’.
Anne Coolen, Country Director for Marie Stopes Ghana, said the aim of the SRHR Parliamentary debate was to advocate for streamlined efforts to increase funding for ASRHR in Ghana by way of increased budgetary allocation.
“If we talk about discussing budget allocation for ASRHR, there could be no better venue for this than the actual parliamentary house, such that the power of this house may inspire a rich debate, leading to actions that will influence the way government and its partners fund Adolescent Reproductive Health and Rights,” Anne Coolen disclosed.
She noted that if there is any single investment government and donors must make to secure the future of this country, then it must be in the health, education and skills acquisition of its young people because they are the reflection of the future.
“The reality that our adolescents and young people are the hope for the future; a mirror through which we see Ghana’s future. I am convinced that this session of the Youth Parliament will get us a step closer to reaching our objective; increased domestic funding for ASRHR. This I believe is the spirit of the Ghana beyond Aid agenda,” she said.
She therefore urged government and other NGOs to listen to the arguments of the young people and be inspired, and leave here with a conviction that there is more that can be done, and that we have a moral obligation to act now.
Some of the Senior High Schools that participated in the parliamentary debate include Ebenezer Senior High School, La Presbyterian Senior High School, Accra High School and Okuapeman Senior High School among others.
The Marie Stopes Youth Advisory Board Parliament on SRHR was also sponsored by other youth focused organizations like Youth Action Movement of PPAG, Youth Leadership Parliament of Ghana, Curious Minds and the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations among others.