• Aminu Ibrahim

Upper West Regional Youth Parliament sits on research findings on ASRH from Wa East

The Upper West Regional Youth Parliament has held a parliamentary sitting to further discuss the research findings on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) from the Wa East District which suggested that 83 percent of adolescent girls engage in sex for sanitary goods.

The sitting, held in Wa on Thursday, June 30, 2022, brought together key stakeholders including Ghana Education and Health Services, Police Command, teachers, youth networks as well as students.

Giving a keynote address, the Upper West Regional Director of the National Youth Authority (NYA), Mr Ampofo Amankona said the research could not have been more timely than now especially that Ghana and the world is recovering from the debilitating effects of COVID-19 pandemic.

He said policies and interventions were moved by data and therefore the research is a good basis to build on.

Hon. Tahiru Lukman, the Chairperson for the parliament select committee on Research and Proposals, presenting the paper on the research, called on parents to be more responsible in looking after their adolescent children.

“If you have married a teacher, make you train your daughter to be more than a teacher; If you have married a professor, make you train your daughter to be more than a professor … because somebody has trained a responsible daughter for you to marry,” he intimated.

The District Assembly and Office of Member of Parliament (MP) were also called upon to commit part of the common funds to adolescent sexual and reproductive health activities in the district.

“If children represent the future, we must begin to put emphasis on the foundation. We cannot have a better society if we fail to grow decent girls for better tomorrow,” Hon. Lukman stated.

Other recommendations included a call on government to institute a free sanitary pad policy; and the media to lead the advocacy campaign.

Speaker, James Baba Anabiga (middle) flanged by Majority and Minority leaders

The Speaker of the Regional Youth Parliament, Rt. Hon. James Baba Anabiga stated that, for the avoidance of doubt or misinterpretation, the Office of the MP was not referring to the current occupant of the office but the office as a sustained entity.

A member of the youth parliament, Hon. Linda Dassah, speaking on the floor of the parliament, called on the government to scrap off taxes on sanitary pads which have made the product costly to procure and thus severing the woos of adolescent girls, especially in rural Ghana.

She further called a shift of attention to the use of reusable sanitary pads to end “period poverty”.

She indulged the youth parliament to development the capacity of its membership on the production of reusable pads who would further reach out to the communities and train girls on how to produce and use the reusable pad.

The Regional of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Damien Punguyire lauded the research and posited that the findings can be said of other districts in the region.

He said the GHS was already undertaking interventions in the area but would intensify its efforts following the research.

Participants at the sitting

The Health Director said his outfit has been collaborating with the GES to promote adolescent reproductive health issues in the various schools.

He added that they have set up adolescent health corners and clubs and have also trained in-school and out-of-school peer educators to support in the area.

The Upper West Regional Director of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Mr Razak Abdul-Korah has however expressed concerns about some girls refusing school for marriage despite strenuous efforts to keep them in school.

Mr Abdul-Korah hinted of a situation in one of the districts where some three school girls have vowed not to return to school even after they were freed from the homes of men they were married off to.

He said the situation is worrying but assured that the GES would continue its efforts at supporting in the area of adolescent health.

Mr Abdul-Korah noted the government has been aware and supporting in the provision of sanitary pads to adolescent girls in schools to prevent period shaming and losing of instructional hours by menstruating girls.

He said the government under GPEC provided sanitary pads and would continue same with its GALOP initiative of which the Wa East District, which is a subject of concern, is a beneficiary.

The Youth Parliament undertook the research with funding support from the Plan International Ghana.

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