By; MOHAMMED MUNIRAT NASIR, Gusau
Achieving good adolescents health remains the major catalyst required for sustainable growth and development of the country.
This consensus was reached by participants at the launch of ‘Reaching and Empowering Adolescents to make Choices for their Health in Nigeria (REACH) Project funded by Canadian government through the Global Affairs Canada and implemented by the Save the Children International (SCI).
The participants which include the adolescents, top government officials, traditional rulers, religious leaders and other stakeholders agreed that in view of the large population of the youths particularly the adolescents in the country the only way there could be meaningful progress is when the adolescents have good health which make them live a good life to be able to contribute positively to nation building.
Speaking at the launch which was held at the City King Hotel, Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, REACH Project Director, SCI Abuja Country Office, Dr Modupe Taiwo said the REACH project is a three-year project that is being implemented in Zamfara and two other states targeted at adolescents age 10-19 in rural and hard to reach communities where discriminatory social and gender norms significantly affect their abilities to make decisions to protect and improve their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).
Taiwo added the REACH will utilize a socio -ecological model to address deep seated gender inequalities and improve equitable access of 100,000 married and unmarried adolescents to high quality, gender responsive and adolescent friendly health services.
“In order to foster opportunities for improved decision making power, unmarried and married adolescents girls will be empowered to make informed decisions about their own SRHR through with them”, she said.
Also in his address, the Zamfara state REACH Project Manager, Alhaji Abdullahi Maiwada said the project will be implemented over 100 communities in two local government areas namely Kaura Namoda and Talata Mafara.
“The project will improve integration of civil society contribution and evidence based best practices with local and national stakeholders in adolescents and sexual reproductive health and rights policy design and implementation”, he said. ,
Maiwada seeks the support and cooperation of stakeholders especially the traditional and religious leaders whom he described as the beacon for the development of adolescents in the country.
Launching the REACH project, Zamfara state governor, Alhaji Abdul’Aziz Yari Abubakar said the state government is always set to support and provide needed impetus to all development partners who are ready to assist the state to achieve sustainable development in Zamfara and country.
Yari represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr Habib Yelwa said the state government is already course in tackling and reducing maternal deaths in the state.
“Zamfara is a champion of the saving one million lives initiative and also awarded as one of the polio free states in the country.
Yari disclosed that to ensure that adolescents gets deaired health service, the Zamfara state government has trained 110 youths on adolescents health to promote the adolescence growth and development in the state.
In his address, the Emir of Anka and Chairman Zamfara State Traditional Council, Alhaji Attahiru Ahmed commended the Save the Children for selecting Zamfara state as one of the benefiting states.
The Emir assures the support of the traditional council in making the project achieve it target of improving adolescent health in the state.