Liberia: UNFPA, Swedish Government Launch Sexual Reproductive Health Program in Sinoe County
Greenville, Sinoe County – The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with funding from the Swedish government has extended its Sexual and Reproductive Health Program targeting adolescent boys and girls to Sinoe County.
The program was launched over the weekend in Greenville, the capital of Sinoe at a colorful event attended by officials of the United Nations and the Government of Liberia including UN Resident Coordinator, Neils Scott, the Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah and UNFPA Country Representative, Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi.
Giving the overview, Dr. Ndyanabangi said the program was launched in 2017 in Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru and River Gee counties due to statistics which show high teenage pregnancy rate in the southeastern region.
The program is based on three access point module, targeting health facilities through the youth friendly centers that provide basic sexual and reproductive health services to adolescents and the establishment of health clubs and teaching of sexuality education in school schools, according to him.
The third pillar, he said, is the involvement of the community by working with community based organizations, especially women groups who are trained to educate their friends and children about the sexual and reproductive health rights, and to also encourage them to make use of the youth friendly centers.
The program, he said has made a huge success in the three counties where teenage pregnancy and maternal mortality have reduced. The evaluation in Grand Gedeh Showed a 20 percent reduction in teenage pregnancy, while health officials in River Gee trumpeted the drastic reduction of maternal mortality in 2020 and 2021 so far.
The UNFPA Country Representative called on the people of Sinoe to embrace the for its successful implementation by reducing teenage pregnancy and maternal deaths.
“We are reducing teenage pregnancy because when teenager get pregnant, most of all, they lose opportunity, they drop out of school,” he said.
“Secondly when you look at maternal mortality, the majority of those who were dying in childbirth were young women and teenagers. So, they were contributing to the high maternal deaths. But the program enhanced the potential of young people, ensure that they stay in school, ensure that they won’t get pregnant when they are still young.”
In separate remarks, Mr. Scott and Dr. Jallah thanked the Government of Sweden for the support and called on residents of Sinoe to take ownership of the program for its successful implementation.
Mr. Scott said since the end of the civil war, the government and people of Liberia have achieved a lot through the maintenance of the peace, promotion of justice and the provision of basic social services.
Liberia, he said, continues to make significant achievements in health to maintain the global health coverage. But there are still need for significant improvement, especially in the reduction of maternal mortality which is high among young people.
“At the top of maternal mortality, young people are still suffering, that is why the maternal mortality rate is very high. That is why the UNFPA is working with the Ministry of health to bring in reliable and friendly family planning,” he said.
He added: “We will meet the target; we will improve radically because this has happened in many counties. On the sexual and reproductive health, we will reach a country where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.”
Dr. Jallah called for a holistic inclusion of all adolescents ranging from age 11 to 19 and called on the young people, especially the students to make use of the Youth Friendly Center.
She urged the professionals at the center to keep every client’s information confidential and always exhibit a friendly gesture to young people accessing the center as the name depicts.
She also called on the young people, predominately the students to make smart choices as they grow up, do away with the myths and misinformation surrounding the contraceptives and make use of the youth friendly centers that will be set up to get access to family planning materials such as contraceptives, condoms and basic sexual reproductive health education and services.
“When you go out, make sure that you are not influence by friends to do the wrong things. Make sure you make smart choices to know about your reproductive health status. We are encouraging you to make use of this center,” she advised.
She further said: “We want to encourage you that whatever program that has been designed for you is for you. If you stay out of it, you will be missing out. Don’t listen to the misinformation associated with the family planning. we want you to get the actual information from the experts at these centers.”
Speaking further, she called on residents, especially those fall within the category to take the COVID-19 vaccines whenever it is brought to Sinoe.
For his part, Alexander Tokpa, the County Health Officer of Sinoe thanked UNFPA for the support, especially to girls who are most vulnerable in the society in term of dropping from school missing out on opportunities.
Tokpa, on behalf of the county assured UNFPA that the they will embrace the program to for its successful implementation.
Also making remarks, the President for the Women Platform, Lorraine G. Mennoh lauded UNFPA and the Swedish Government for the program and said it will be a solution to ending teenage pregnancy.
Meanwhile, following the launch, the team drove to Kwetatuzon, few kilometers away from Greenville and dedicated a Maternity Center constructed by BRAC through UNFPA with funding from the Swedish Government.