NGO advocates special units for adolescents in health facilities 


 A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Women Friendly Initiative (WFI), is advocating for more adolescents’ units in health facilities particularly Primary Health Centres (PHCs) to cater for the health needs of adolescents.

WFI Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) Project Manager, Mr David Uche, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Uche spoke with NAN at the sidelines of a 3-day capacity building workshop for journalists in Abuja.

He said that providing health services to adolescents and other young people was a sensitive public issue.

The programme manager said that people of 11years to 19 years have peculiar health needs, stating that adolescent friendly health services must have the standards and qualities that young people seek.

He stated that the WFI SCALE-Project funded by USAID discovered that there were inadequate adolescent corners in PHCs.

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Uche stated that PHC was the backbone of a health system and has been recognized as fundamental to improving health outcomes.

“According to Federal Ministry of Health assessment of Youth Friendly Health Services (YFHS) in Nigeria 2006, 57.1 per cent of YFHS in Nigeria were owned by NGOs, one-third of the staff have no special training.

“Over half of the YFHS facilities surveyed had integrated services, a third were dedicated solely to youths while just five per cent had youths hours at the clinics.

“Only five per cent of the over 23,584 public PHC facilities in Nigeria has integrated AYFHS although adolescents and youth constitute over 65 per cent population in Nigeria.

“Yet these cohorts are vulnerable to several unique health problems such as HIV and AIDS, STIs, drug abuse and addiction and mental disorders.

“They are also prone to unplanned pregnancies with its consequences such as unsafe abortion, sexual violence and other associated health issues resulting from early marriage which are addressable by trained health providers at PHCs levels,” he added.

The programme manager further advocated that well trained personnel be engaged to manage the adolescents corners when established.

According to him, such personnel must have certain unique attributes to attend to adolescents’ needs.

“Establish rapport with adolescents and ensure confidentiality, include the family with client’s consent and spend time alone with the adolescent.

“Understand your roles and responsibilities, practice active listening and internal considerations,” he added.

He pointed out that many adolescents conceal their health challenges for fear of embarrassment as well as the attitude of the care providers.

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