Tuesday, 30 January, 2024
The Coordinating Director at the Northern Regional Coordinating Council, Mr. Mumuni Damma, delivered a keynote address on behalf of the Northern Regional Minister at the first-ever Adolescent Health and Nutrition Conference. The conference, held in Tamale, aimed to foster collaboration and innovative solutions to enhance the delivery of adolescent health and nutrition services in the Northern Region.
The theme of the conference, “Bridging the Care Gap in Adolescent Service Delivery: The Role of Communities and Service Providers,” highlighted the critical areas of focus for the well-being and development of young people. Mr. Damma emphasized the importance of providing useful information and education on reproductive health care during adolescence to facilitate smooth growth and integration into society.
Adolescent health and nutrition, according to Mr. Damma, are pivotal for establishing healthy habits and preventing the onset of diseases. He stressed that investing in the health and nutrition of adolescents not only fosters individual well-being but also has far-reaching societal benefits, reducing the burden of diseases in adulthood.
Mr. Damma identified challenges in adolescent service delivery, including limited understanding of specific needs, inadequate funding, a shortage of trained service providers, and a lack of adolescent-friendly healthcare facilities. He called for comprehensive efforts by stakeholders to address these obstacles.
During the event, Mr. Mohammed Awal Alhassan, Executive Director of Norsaac, urged communities to create safe spaces where young people can access the healthcare they deserve. Norsaac’s initiatives, such as the Promotion of Adolescent Safe Spaces (PASS) and Power to Choose (P2C) projects, aim to address the gaps in service delivery across multiple regions.
Mr. Awal emphasized the importance of community involvement through the Community Engagement for Health and Wellbeing (CE4HW) strategy, part of the Accelerating Social and Behavior Change (ASBC) activity funded by USAID. The strategy aims to empower communities to identify and implement local innovative solutions to health behavior barriers.
The Northern Regional Director of Health, Dr. Abdulai Abukari, welcomed participants and called for collaborative partnerships to champion adolescent health and development. He highlighted the success in reducing teenage pregnancy rates, standing at 9.0% in 2022 and slightly below the national target in 2023, thanks to support from partners and stakeholders.
Dr. Abukari acknowledged UNICEF and the World Health Organization for funding the region’s flagship Adolescent Health Programmes, providing opportunities for evidence-based interventions and the integration of quality adolescent health services.
The conference concluded with a resounding call for continued support from all stakeholders to empower youth, equip them with knowledge and resilience, and actively shape their destinies.