The Swedish Government through the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) has extended its Youth Friendly Centre that provides education to both boys and girls on sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) to Sinoe County.
The decision to extend the BRAC implemented program comes shortly after joint members of a high delegation that included Ingrid Wetterqvist, Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, UNFPA Country Representative, Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi, and Assistant Minister for Curative Services, Ministry of Health, Dr. Gorbee Logan, gathered many positive success stories from Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties where there is reportedly a huge reduction in teenage pregnancy and maternal mortality.
The newly launched project in Sinoe County, like other counties, will ensure both teenage girls and boys have access to free contraceptives and other sexual and reproductive health services. The project will be launched in schools, communities, and health centers where the Friendly Centers will be constructed.
Dr. Ndyanabangi providing an overview of the project said it started in 2017 with a focus on young people’s reproductive health care services. He said the team saw the need to implement the project as the result of the information gathered through the Liberia Demographic and Health Survey (LDHS), which put the percentage of teenage pregnancy between thirty to forty-one percent in the southeast.
Dr. Ndyanabangi said a majority of maternal deaths are young people because their bodies are not fully developing.
“That is why this program started to enhance young people, ensure that they stay in school and do not get pregnant at a youthful age that will result in complications and death. This program that started in 2017 has shown good results by reducing teenage pregnancy in Grand Gedeh by 20% and in River Gee, by zero maternal death, and low teenage pregnancy in 2020 that has enabled girls to stay in school,” he said.
Dr. Ndyanabangi sought the collaboration of the county authority owing to the fact that they have had six maternal deaths in 2021 with a very high increase in teenage pregnancy.
Neils Scott, the UN Country Coordinator to Liberia, told young people of the county to take ownership and advantage of the program if they must have a positive future free of teenage pregnancy. He said the project would benefit both boys and girls and provide access to better family planning and health rights.
He called on community members to adopt the program to ensure that it is impactful, encouraging citizens further to accept reproductive health rights education to reduce teenage pregnancy.
Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah said the Youth Friendly Center would provide young and friendly professionals who will keep every information provided to them private. She said the friendly center will help girls and boys make smart choices about their future and keep young girls stay in school.
“In school, most of the dropouts are females. So, this project has come to ensure that young people are careful and do not allow others influence their decisions,” Dr. Jallah said.
Dr. Jallah called on those school-going kids present at the launch to encourage their friends in school and home to be a part of the project because it presents better for them.
Alexander Tokay, Sinoe County Health Officer, thanked UNFPA for the endless support, adding that adolescent girls in society are the most venerable.
He said to ensure they stay in the school, sexual and reproductive health education is very important. Tokpah assured that the county health team would embrace the process because it is under universal access to women’s health and rights.
Lorraine G. Mennoh, President for the Women Platform, welcomed the program because she and her group believe that it will help the advocacy of gender balance to be successful with all of the challenges that women faced on the road to success.
“We as women, the messages we are giving are not for ourselves but our teenagers. Because we have many girls dropping out of school, you have brought solutions to us. So, we embrace it and will ensure that our young women get the needed education,” she said.