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  • Aminu Ibrahim

Traditional authorities and clergy pledge support to end teenage pregnancies

Participants in a group photo

Traditional authorities and the clergy in Bulenga in the Wa East District have pledged commitment to ending the occurrence of teenage pregnancies among adolescent girls in the area.

They made the pledge at a stakeholder engagement organized by the Upper West Regional Youth Parliament with support from Plan International Ghana over the weekend.

The engagement was a follow-up to a similar engagement held earlier in Bulenga following research conducted by the Youth Parliament (YP) during which the need to specifically involve the traditional rulers and the clergy arose.

The Wa East District has been identified as one of the districts with high cases of teenage pregnancies and child marriages, and the research confirmed that 83 per cent of girls indulge in sexual escapades to secure sanitary goods.

Mr James Baba Anabiga, Speaker, Youth Parliament

In his remarks, the Speaker of the Upper West Regional Youth Parliament, Mr James Baba Anabiga said the essence of the engagement was to brainstorm to come out with the best strategies for speaking out about the issues of adolescent reproductive health as a way of finding solutions to the problems.

He added that the role of traditional authorities and religious leaders could not be underestimated when it comes to speaking out to bring about positive change in the situation of ASRH in the district.

Mr Anabiga indicated the engagement was, therefore, to carve out a well-defined roadmap that encompasses channels and feedback strategies for ASRH communication.

“We want to see, what steps are you putting in place to include these messages as part of your sermons, bible studies and meetings so that we can get the message to the roots,” he implored.

He acknowledged that the clergy and traditional rulers possess authority with which they can turn the situation around, hence the need to engage them in the process.

Naa Yahaya Osumanu, Chaggu Divisional Area

The Chief of the Chaggu Divisional Area, Naa Yahaya Osumanu who represented the Paramount Chief of the Bulenga Traditional Area, said the traditional authorities would leverage all their meeting platforms to preach about adolescent reproductive health as part of efforts to end the ‘ugly’ phenomenon tagged with the Wa East District.

He said the platforms would be used to educate and sensitize parents and guardians to handle their adolescent children in the best responsible manner to safeguard them from falling victim to teenage pregnancies and child marriages.

He indicated such education would be done during their council meetings, marriage and naming ceremonies while situational reports from the divisional heads would be requested to inform decision patterns.

Faarayiri-Naa, Naa Seidu Elyasu, who was also at the engagement, noted that the engagement was useful and necessary to collate efforts tailored to curbing the menace.

He observed that parents have a crucial role to play in shaping the moral character and positive upbringing of their children for responsible adulthood.

The clergy – both Islamic and Christian – also pledged to include messages of ASRH in their sermons and preaching at various prayer and evangelical meetings.

On his part, the Wa East District Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Pascal Kinsley said the health directorate has since set up adolescent health corners at selected health facilities to offer young people the platform to access ASRH services and information.

He added the health directorate had also increased the geographic coverage of health facilities (CHPS Compounds) in the district as part of efforts to improve adolescent reproductive health services.

He also recognized the important role of traditional rulers and the clergy in the health sector and called for their continuous support.

Representatives from the Wa East District Assembly including Assembly Members also attended the event.

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