Mrs Doris Quame, Akatsi North District Director of Health Services, has called for the establishment of youth centres in communities to support the proper upbringing of adolescents and the youth.
She said such facilities could provide counselling, knowledge and skills to young people, so that they stayed away from drugs and unwanted pregnancies, and help organise their lives.
Mrs Quame made the suggestion when she engaged policy makers and leaders of youth groups in the Akatsi North District at a forum on reproductive health and rights at Ave Dakpa.
She said the initiative would also help fill gaps in parenting by equipping care givers to identify danger signs during the adolescent and youthful stages of their wards.
The Director mentioned that the bulk of the load lay on the health sector, adding that its counselling and community outreaches were never enough and must be buttressed by other interventions from other stakeholders.
Mrs Quame said teenage pregnancy stood at 17.8 per cent in the District, and that the data showed that the pregnancies were mostly from sexual relationships with classmates.
She asked community leaders to consider the gravity of the situation on the development of the area, and help break the cycle of adolescent births.
Mrs Quame also asked parents to ensure that peer pressure did not permeate the development stage by providing the needed awareness on sexuality early in the child’s life, and must not also allow poverty to encourage early marriages or prostitution.
Dr Prince Amuzu, the District Chief Executive, charged youth groups to champion issues related to reproductive health, and mobilise the communities to fight against unwanted pregnancies.
Mr Patrick Kwame Ahiabu, Presiding Member of the Assembly, who chaired the forum, said the Assembly would attach priority to supporting the youth with the needed interventions, and called on all stakeholders to work in unison at reducing all forms of sexual exploitation.
He also promised to engage the Assembly on drawing out policies that would deter males from abusing underage girls sexually.
Mr Yao Semordey, Regional Director of the National Youth Authority (NYA), said the youth must be made “mindful of the consequences of their sexual escapades”, and also aware of their reproductive rights and responsibilities.
The forum was held by the NYA under the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Government of Ghana’s 2018 to 2022 Country Programme Seven (CP7), which is benefitting six districts in the Volta and Oti Regions.
Ms Victoria Fato, Regional Focal Person for UNFPA, said the programme worked with stakeholders including the Ghana Health Service, Security Services, and Gender Ministry to safeguard the future of the youth.
She said it focused on goals three and five of the Sustainable Development Goals to guarantee universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, end maternal deaths, and also address unmet needs of family planning.
Ms Fato said CP7 also aimed at ending gender-based violence, child marriages and teenage pregnancies.