By Cecilia Ologunagba/Justina Auta
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, has described as worrisome that most public facilities do not offer youth-friendly services in the country.
Dare said this at the opening of two-day Nigerian Stakeholders’ Consultation Toward West and Central Africa Region Ministerial Commitment for Educated, Healthy and Thriving Adolescents and Young People in Abuja.
The forum was organised by UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), in collaboration with ministries of education and health.
Dare, who was represented by Mrs Janet Angyu, an Assistant Director in the ministry, however, expressed optimism that the outcome of the forum would provide recommendations toward changing the situation.
The forum, he added, would also provide policy framework to strengthen and facilitate the scale up of National Reproductive Health Education programmes and services.
Dare said most of the health challenges of youths in Nigeria had behavioural roots and they were preventable, thus, the high level of health challenges among youths reflect the situation.
“It reflects the situation, to a large extent, the inadequate response of the Nigerian health and related social sectors system to the health needs, concerns and challenges of the youth,’’ he said.
Mr Alex Ogundipe, the Director, Community Preventive and Care Services, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) said adolescents were part of the HIV response of the agency.
Represented by Ms Hafsat Aboki, the Principal Programme Officer at NACA, he said a good number of young people do not know their HIV status.
“We need to make sure they are tested, linked to treatment if need be. This is time to act,” he said.
The Emir of Garki, Alhaji Usman Kupi, commended the UNFPA and UNESCO for their interventions in addressing barriers to educating youth and adolescents on culture and reproductive health.
Kupi said that the difference between man and the lower animals was culture, and urged traditional rulers as custodians of culture and values to work harder toward imparting the values in youths.
He said “we need to make sure that we do not allow our norms and values to be disrupted by western culture and values.
“If you look at our ladies’ hairstyles these days, they are mostly western; so, let us cherish our culture, our foods, our indigenous languages and fashion; it is time to appreciate what we have.’’
The emir also appealed to the Federal Government and the FCT Administration that Gbagi indigenous language be used as one of the languages for learning in schools in the FCT.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the aim of the forum is to get Nigeria’s ministerial commitments toward healthy and thriving adolescents and young people.
The forum is a response to the Dakar Call to Action that will lead to a regional high-level commitment by ministers of education and health of 25 West and Central African countries.
It will be instrumental to changing the narratives for adolescents and young people as it relates to their education and health.