The implementation of adolescent reproductive health intervention by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in selected districts in the Upper East Region is making great impact and yielding positive results.
The programme has led to a reduction in the incidence of teenage pregnancies, child marriages, school dropouts, sexual and gender-based violence and improvement in parent-child communication in some communities in the beneficiary districts.
This was revealed at Sirigu and Gbedema communities in the Kassena-Nankana West and Builsa South Districts respectively, during an exchange visit by staff of the UNFPA, Upper East and Central Regional Councils and Departments of Gender, to enable the two regions learn from each other on improving the implementation of the project.
The UNFPA with support from the Global Affairs Canada, since 2019 has been implementing a three-year project being facilitated by the Regional Coordinating Council and the Department of Gender in six selected districts in the region including Bongo, Kassena-Nankana West, Bawku West, Builsa South, Talensi and Nabdam.
The project led to the formation of various stakeholder groups including, Parents Advocacy Movement, Men and Boys clubs, adolescent girls clubs and traditional authorities to empower them to play critical roles to addressing reproductive health challenges facing adolescents.
According to the beneficiaries as a result of the project, they were able to organize sensitization forums for the youth and also took advantage of public gatherings to educate their colleagues on their reproductive health rights and that had resulted in the reduction of teenage pregnancies and sexual and gender-based violence.
Mr Eugene Akanpoi, one of the young men involved in the project, said more adolescents had resorted to the use of contraceptives and some were becoming aware of the dangers associated with engaging in early sex.
Pognaba Francisca Akanpoe, the Queen-mother of Tangasia Community, a suburb of the Sirigu Community lauded the UNFPA's intervention and noted that unlike the past, many parents had started making friends with their adolescent children especially girls and that had led to effective parent-child communication in families.
The Queen-mother stated that many of the beneficiaries of the intervention were seen as role models in the communities and sometimes called to intervene to advice adolescent children on behalf of their parents.
She said the intervention had reduced teenage pregnancies, increased enrolment in schools and reduced child marriages in the area.
"The boys are now also focusing on their education instead of abandoning school and travelling down south to engage in menial jobs to get money to impress the girls", she added.
Mr Jude Domosie, the Programme Analyst, UNFPA, who led the team, noted that it was refreshing to hear that the intervention was making an impact although changing the behaviour of people was a gradual process.
The Programme Analyst, who is also the Focal Person for the Upper East Region, explained that the wellbeing of children was a collective responsibility of both the men and women and therefore underscored the need for husbands to help in the proper upbringing of their children.
Mr James Twene, the Acting Upper East Regional Director of the Department of Gender, said the overall goal of the intervention was to address reproductive health challenges confronting adolescents' growth and development and help reduce the menace of teenage pregnancies and child marriages among beneficiary communities, to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.