By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
Adolescents and young people in Nigeria are at the risk of multiple health problems, namely: sexual and reproductive health, mental health and substance abuse.
Other health issues that trouble Nigerian youths include nutritional problems, violence and injuries, physical disorders and oral health diseases, including communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire who disclosed the reality of adolescent health risks in Nigeria, reiterated Federal Government of Nigeria’s (FGN) commitment towards ensuring the welfare of adolescents in Nigeria.
He said: “The COVID-19 ( Novel Coronavirus disease) pandemic has brought to the forefront the importance of health investment in childhood towards a healthy adulthood”.
The minister said this while interacting with the adolescents at both physical and virtual events convened in Abuja on 23 March 2020 to commemorate the International Adolescent Health Week.
Speaking to the adolescents and journalists present at the physical event, Ehanire indicated that the government recognizes the potential and importance of investing in the health and wellbeing of adolescents to support a successful transition to adulthood.
He pointed out that the leading health challenges among adolescents and young people in Nigeria he highlighted are based on a report of a situation analysis conducted by the Federal Ministry of Health 2019.
“Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has directly and indirectly affected adolescents with long term morbidity and mortality; limited access to essential services, including SRH services; increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV) and harmful practices, with attendant psychological consequences perpetuated by negative masculine gender roles”, the minister said.
He assured Nigerians that the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) is providing leadership and guidance, in collaboration with partners, to ensure continuous delivery of essential gender-responsive services and to mitigate health services access barriers faced by adolescents and young people in Nigeria.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), making progress on Universal Health Coverage requires keeping adolescents at the centre of the Sustainable Development Goal agenda which represents a critical window of opportunity for effective prevention and health promotion with effects throughout the life-course.
With the vision that “no adolescent or young person is left behind”, WHO is continuing to work with Government at all levels to support specific actions that effectively respond to the needs of different categories of adolescents and young people with various levels of vulnerabilities and to remove barriers constraining the access of any subgroup to relevant services and opportunities for improved health, well-being, and development.
Equally, WHO Nigeria, under the organization’s Adolescent flagship program, has been supporting the FMOH, using the global Accelerated Action on Health Adolescent Guidance, to revise the National policy on health and development of Adolescent and young people. WHO is also supporting the follow-on National implementation plan plus the Monitoring and evaluation Framework being developed.
At the subnational level, WHO is supporting the operationalization of the implementation plan in two LGAs (Edo-ore and Daura) in two states (Edo and Katsina) respectively. In addition, technical support in the disaggregation of Adolescent health data in the HMIS was facilitated by WHO.
The International Adolescent Health Week is celebrated yearly on the third full week in March. It is aimed at celebrating young people with the goal of working collectively towards improving the health and well-being of adolescents across the world.
The theme for this year’s event is “Adolescent Resilience in the Face of a Pandemic” which resonates the tremendous resilience and adaptability of adolescents, despite the challenges and uncertainties they have faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.