In an effort to address the crucial sexual and reproductive health needs of young people in Ghana, the Social and Behaviour Change (SBC) Unit of the UNICEF Ghana Office has joined forces with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to implement a groundbreaking project.
This collaborative initiative aims to enhance access to and utilization of health services for young individuals transitioning into adulthood.
Recognizing the importance of evidence-based interventions, UNICEF, in partnership with Kantar Public, conducted a comprehensive study last year titled “Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in Ghana – Social And Institutional Determinants Of Service Access And Utilization” in the Bono Region.
The findings from this study provide valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities young people face in accessing and utilizing sexual and reproductive health services.
The research aligns with the ongoing Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) SBCC (Social and Behaviour Change Communication) Strategic Plan led by the Family Health Division (FHD) of the GHS.
As a result, today 20th June, 2023, the Ghana Health Service in collaboration with UNICEF Ghana with funding support from Global Affairs Canada, has met various important stakeholders including; Health Personnel’s, Parents, the Clergy, Opinion Leaders amongst others to discuss with them how important the findings are to them.
One significant aspect of the project involves addressing the impact of social media on adolescent sexual and reproductive health.
Dr. Emmanuel Tenkorang, the Ashanti Regional Director of Health, highlighted the negative effects of social media on young people’s well-being.
“Social media can create an environment of peer pressure, where young people feel compelled to engage in risky sexual behaviors to fit in or gain acceptance.
Online platforms may glamorize unhealthy relationships, unprotected sex, or early sexual activity, influencing impressionable adolescents to engage in behaviors that can have long-lasting consequences on their sexual and reproductive health,” he stressed.
He advised adolescents to seek family planning services at hospitals before it becomes too late.
This call to action emphasizes the importance of providing accurate information and guidance to adolescents, empowering them to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health.
Charity Nikoi, the Officer in Charge of the Social Behaviour Change Unit at UNICEF Ghana, emphasized the significance of this research in benefiting adolescents, parents, and other stakeholders.
“By utilizing on this study’s findings, interventions can be designed to bridge the gap between young people and the essential sexual and reproductive health services they need.
“Access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services is vital for adolescents as they navigate the challenges of adolescence and transition into adulthood, she said.
She then added that the project as it moves forward, is crucial in ensuring the dissemination of research findings and the implementation of evidence-based interventions across Ghana.
“By doing so, we can foster a society that empowers and supports young individuals in making informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health, ultimately leading to healthier and more prosperous futures for all, she added.
The collaboration between UNICEF Ghana and the GHS is a commendable effort towards promoting the well-being and rights of young people.
By addressing the social and institutional determinants that hinder access to sexual and reproductive health services, this project has the potential to bring about lasting positive change in the lives of Ghanaian adolescents.
Nana Yaw Owusu/Ashanti Region.