By Joseph Ebitibi Kanjo
Speaking recently at a Round Table Discussion with media practitioners in Edo State, Cynthia Adeseiye, Adolescent Health Desk Officer, Edo State Ministry of Health, gave a shocking revelation. Adeseiye, while speaking at the event titled ‘Family Planning and Adolescent and Youth Reproductive Health Information on Edo Media Space; Way Forward,’ gave a worrisome statistics of 72.2% of adolescent and youth being exposed to sex at the early age of 15 and 19 in the state.
As worrisome as this figure may be to any well-meaning person in the state, particularly parents, the Desk Officer gave a further explicit breakdown of the figure in sex categories.
According to her, a survey carried out by Edo SEEFOR shows that 10.4% of male are exposed to sex at the tender age of 14, while 17.1% female are exposed to the same act at this same age. More so, data presented by the health practitioner reveals that, unlike the early age of 14, the male folks are more exposed to sex from ages 15 to 19. A critical look at the info-graphic given, 75.6% male goes into sex at ages between 15 and 19 while the female sex debut at the same age was pegged at 72.2% in the data.
More so, the info-graphic presented by the health practitioner at the event shows that 46% girls remain sexually active after their debut resulting to about 66.60% unwanted pregnancy among these girls. According to the Desk Officer, of this 66.60% with unwanted pregnancy, 50% end up committing unsafe abortion. This they do probably just to hide their shame.
This worrisome situation has been attributed to many factors such as reduced awareness among adolescents and youths on the different family planning methods, otherwise known as contraceptive, available to them.
While some may not be aware of such contraceptives, few are aware. In as much as they cannot be prevented absolutely from having sex, it behoves on stakeholders concerned to guide these youths and adolescents on safe sex so as not to truncate their future, but unfortunately the awareness campaign on safe sex and the use of contraceptive is low in the state according to research. Or is it right to say the awareness is there but those concerned are not aware or do not bother to know?
For instance, data given at the event show Edo adolescents and youths (female) have a very low exposure to information on safe sex cum contraceptives usage, unfortunately, they wallow in the act (sex). The info-graphic presented shows only 17.2% adolescents from ages 15 to 19 get information on available contraceptive, the uses and the different methods available via radio in the state while a lower percentage of 15.4 get theirs from television stations.
As regards government hospitals, 14.3% adolescents get information on the use of contraceptive from these hospitals while 41.7% get their information on safe sex from community health practitioners. But the most worrisome, which should be a major concern to stakeholders, is that these girls depend on unreliable sources for information on contraceptive and uses.
This is because, according to the information, chemist has the highest patronage on contraceptive from these girls followed by friends in the street. In the info-graphic, 42.9 of the young girls in the state are being enlightened by their friends on contraceptive while 68.4% of these girls at adolescent get such information from a chemist.
This is a worrisome situation. They could be misinformed and misled by their friends on the use of contraceptive. More so, the chemists these girls get information from on different contraceptives and uses are not, most often, handled by core professionals, particularly the front-end persons.
This portends danger. Stakeholders must rise to their responsibility of creating awareness on available contraceptives and uses. Government, the media and other stakeholders must be involved on the awareness campaign on life planning for the youths and family planning for families in the state.
Call For Action
Emphasizing on this, Dr. David Odiko, Director Primary Health Care, Edo state ministry of health as a result solicited media practitioners’ partnership in promoting family planning in their different media organisations so as to reach a larger population. He further appealed for more collaboration and partnership, adding “I hope it will continue,” in appreciation of the collaboration so far from the media.
“We are hoping that we will be given space in your medium to talk, not just on reproductive health but health in general so that people can be safer and that is when we can be sure the economy is better for everyone,” he said.
Mrs.Patricia Osazuwa, Reproductive Health Coordinator, state ministry of health, also implored stakeholders in the media to be more committed to promoting information on family planning, adult and youth reproductive health, just as she called for more effective collaboration across media space and stakeholders.
“Promote Family Planning and Adolescent and Youth Reproductive Health information on the media space. Join and participate in the existing media advocacy group,” she said.
She attributed the high mortality rate and unwanted pregnancy cum abortion in the society to low campaign on the needed information for the people concerned.
Benefits Attached To Family Planning
Speaking on the numerous benefits attached to family planning, Mrs. Osazuwa said a woman into family planning will not be scared of unwanted pregnancy and have time to support her husband in the home. This will reduce the burden on men to take care of their families.
She said family planning reduces stress, anxiety and thinking on the man while the woman has time to rest and regain her body before another pregnancy.
“She is able to breastfeed her child longer and spend more time with the children,” she added.
She continues, “Family planning reduces unwanted pregnancy and abortion among youths. It reduces death among children and mothers and allows proper distribution of available resources.”