By Hassan Zaggi
The United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA), has called on the governments at all levels and partners to foster engagements with adolescents and give them a platform for their voice to be heard.
The UNFPA Representative in Nigeria, Ms Ulla Elisabeth Mueller, made the call at a media briefing to commemorate the International Adolescent Health week, in Abuja, Tuesday.
The week which is celebrated for the first time in Nigeria was with the theme: “Resilience in the face of Pandemic”
According to her: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore some of the persistent challenges adolescents face such as- the silent pandemic of gender-based violence, the prevalent stigma adolescents experience in accessing FP services and the hurdles adolescents and young people living with HIV have to overcome in accessing treatment.
“However, adolescents have risen up to the negative impacts of the pandemic through their sheer innovation and determination to be part of the COVID-19 solutions especially through the utilization of technology and social media.”
She, however, disclosed that UNFPA is working with several CSOs to develop home grown strategies that addresses the challenges that adolescents face.
“UNFPA has also given both technical and financial support to all relevant government structures at the national and sub-national level to advance Adolescent health programming.
“To ensure that adolescents and youth flourish on the road to adulthood, what is needed is an integrated set of policies and programs that addresses the “whole person” and pays close attention both to the context in which adolescents.
“The most effective actions for adolescent health and wellbeing are intersectoral and multi-component,” she revealed.
Speaking, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, called on all stakeholders and all related government Ministries, Departments and Agencies; the UN, Multilaterals, bilateral, the NMA, NGOs/CSO, the Media, religious/traditional leaders and communities to join hands together to support successful and gainful adolescent transition to adulthood.
He, however, noted that the Government of Nigeria duly recognises the potentials and the importance of investing in the health and wellbeing of adolescents and young people and, therefore, has given considerable attention and increasing priority to them in the National agenda over the years.
The Federal Ministry of Health, Ehanire, said, “is providing leadership and guidance, in collaboration with Partners, to ensure continuous delivery of essential gender-responsive, services and to mitigate the barriers Adolescents and Young people face in accessing these services, through the National Adolescent Technical Working Group.
“It has revised and updated the National Policy on the Health and Development of Adolescents and Young People in Nigeria 2021 -2024 – which shall soon be launched and disseminated.
“This together with a detailed implementation plan; Monitoring and Evaluation tools represent the Nation’s aspiration to invest in the wellbeing and development of young people.
“These will provide a guide to programme implementations and interventions, while the blue-print will chart a positive course for translating political commitment into actionable programmes in the years ahead, thus providing targeted policies and services that are expected to reach the most vulnerable youth populations, including young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs), young migrants; homeless youth, young women, adolescents and children facing increased risks of domestic violence.”