The Ghana Health Service (GHS) on Tuesday launched Adolescent Health Service Policy and Strategy to provide the framework within which health provision and other related interventions for adolescents and young people would be coordinated and implemented.

The 54-page document, which contains a host of interventions is expected to serve as reference for planning for the health of adolescents and young people for the next five years (2016-2020), thus ensuring the efficient use of resources towards achieving the overall health sector goals.

It was developed by the GHS and Ministry of Health, with inputs from the National Population Council, World Health Organisation, UNICEF, UKAID, and the Ghana Education Service.

Others were; National Youth Authority, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Department of Gender, UNFPA, Curious Minds and other Non-Governmental Organisations working in the field of reproductive health, as well as development partners.

Dr George Amofah, a former GHS Deputy Director-General and a Project Consultant, in an overview at the workshop said the existing policy environment in the country was favourable for the promotion of the health and development of adolescents.

The health sector does not have an explicit Adolescent Health and Development Service Policy which prioritises and addresses the broad range of health issues aside Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) confronting contemporary adolescents and young people in Ghana.

He argued that the existence of a national health policy for young people may not necessarily guarantee improved health outcomes, saying, empirical evidence had indicated that countries with strong adolescent health programmes benefited from supportive political environment as well as policies and strategies which promote the health and well-being of these group.

He explained that the formulation of the strategy was therefore informed by the findings of the National Adolescent Health and Development Programme (ADHD) evaluation conducted in 2016.
He said the evaluation reflected on some of Ghana’s new health commitments and the newly agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to provide the enabling environment for quality health service delivery for adolescents.

Dr Amofah said the Strategy identified nine “Action Areas” to update national policies, strategies, plans and budgets.

He mentioned them as; country leadership, financing for health, health system resilience, individuals potential, community engagement, multi-sectoral action, humanitarian and fragile settings, research and innovation, and accountability.

He said the Policy and Strategy were in conformity with the Global Accelerated Action for the Health of Adolescents implementation guidelines of 2016.

He said the strategy would go beyond SRH, HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections, to provide broad strategic directions to promote, present and manage the health and development of Ghanaian adolescents.

It would also incorporate current recommendations on policies and programmes that respond to priority health needs of the young, reflect the evidence-base for action, capture new interventions and service delivery mechanisms.

It also provided guidelines on building a framework to continually improve the health and development of adolescents through their participation and engagement, and on effective coordination with public, private, NGO, local and international development partners.

Dr Patrick Aboagye, GHS Director of the Family Health Division acknowledged the numerous Psycho-physical challenges that confront adolescent and young people which had various implications for their socio-economic and health development.

“There is the need to create a safe and supportive environment, ensure access to appropriate information, ensure that health facilities provide goods and services including counselling on mental health, nutrition, sexual reproductive health, and ensure the active participation of young people in programmes affecting them…”

He said there was also the need to ensure their protection from all forms of violence, harmful practices especially focusing on the more vulnerable such as pre-adolescents, younger adolescents, pregnant adolescents, adolescents practicing prostitution directly or indirectly and adolescents living with HIV and AIDS.

Source: GNA

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