Headline News Nigeria Special Report

A case for Investing in young people

Gender experts are calling for greater attention on policy and financing that has direct bearing on the health and well-being of young people around the world.

This was even as the World population officially topped 8 billion this week, with 1.8 billion adolescents and youth (aged 10 to 24) – facing an unprecedented number of challenges in their health and wellbeing.

The experts believed adolescence is a critical stage of development, that between 2003 and 2015, only 1.6% of development health assistance supported adolescent programming.

According to them “The situation has been exacerbated considerably by the triple threat of conflict, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring high quality sexual and reproductive care for adolescents and young people was high on the agenda this week at the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP2022) in Pattaya, Thailand”.

“Approximately 12 million girls aged 15–19 years and at least 777,000 girls under 15 years give birth each year in developing regions. At least 10 million unintended pregnancies occur each year among adolescent girls aged 15–19 years in low-and-middle income countries, while pregnancy and childbirth complications are among the leading causes of death among girls aged 15-19 years globally”.

A statement by the Partnership for Maternal Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) Board Chair and former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark, encourages the participation and leadership of adolescents and girls, in programs such as the forthcoming PMNCH’s 1.8 Billion Young People for Change campaign in October 2023 as the Global Forum for Adolescents.

A Board Member of PMNCH, representing its Adolescent and Youth constituency, Dr David Imbago, emphasized that “Policymakers should ask their constituents what young people want, work across sectors and adopt a comprehensive approach to adolescent well-being”.

The Global Focal Point for SDG3 and Health in the UN Major Group for Children and Youth Lucy Fagan, highlighted the importance of capitalizing on opportunities that the digital age brings for navigating and claiming rights, and the need to invest more in adolescent sexual and reproductive health right (SRHR) services as well as involve young people in designing and developing the services they use.

The experts expressed optimism that including young people decisions in programs that directly affects their well being would address the numerous challenges affecting them, while adequate funding should also be earmarked for sexual and reproductive health right of young people.

Writing by Julian Osamoto, editing by Daniel Adejo.