The Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana (YHFG), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in Bolgatanga has called on Journalists to promote Reproductive Health Education (RHE) in their reportage.
This, the NGO said would dispel misconceptions surrounding the concept of RHE and reduce the numerous adolescent and teenage challenges young people in the Upper East Region faced.
The youth-focused NGO made the call through its Evidence to Action: Sexual and Reproductive Health Education Advocacy Project Officer, Ms Kadijah Hamidu, at a Media Action Team on Reproductive Health engagement with some selected Journalists in the Region.
The programme was sponsored by the Riksförbundet för Sexuell Upplysning (RFSU).
Ms Hamidu noted that the Ghanaian culture of silence, logistical constraints and religious beliefs among others were obstacles to RHE in the country and said if media establishments, especially radio stations in the Region designed RHE programmes, it would generate discussions and enable members of the public to appreciate the importance of RHE for young people.
On the concept of RHE, the Project Officer indicated that RHE should be age-specific, and explained that “the content of RHE is responsive to the changing needs and capacities of the child and the young person as they grow.”
She said it was critical for contents of RHE to take into consideration the cultural and context specific in which RHE was implemented, adding that such contents had to be specifically accurate and based on facts and evidence related to Sexual and Reproductive Health, sexuality and behaviours.
Ms Augustina Dechegme Achigibah, another Officer of the Project, said most parents and girls did not understand the changes girls went through during the adolescent stages of their life.
“We have young girls as early as nine years starting to menstruate, their parents have not talked to them to understand what it means to menstruate and the psychological and emotional changes that happen.”
“They really lack the knowledge, and I think that is what is predisposing some of them to engage in unprotected sex and getting pregnant,” she said.
Ms Achigibah said it was time parents and other stakeholders including; the media opened up and educated young ones on sexual reproductive health, and how they could keep themselves safe.
“So parents have to open up, the whole society has to talk, the media have to help us. We those from Civil Society Organisations are also doing our part”.
She said if government supported RHE in schools just as Science and Mathematics were taught, “Most of these our young girls, before they menstruate, will get to understand these issues better.”
Ms Achigibah said most girls in rural communities in the Region could not afford sanitary pads, and as part of YHFG’s contribution to ensure young girls had safe menstrual periods, her outfit taught some girls how to sew reusable sanitary pads for their own use as part of activities to mark this year’s Menstrual Hygiene Day.
The Project Officer appealed to parents to assist their young girls to buy sanitary pads to boost their confidence levels during their menstrual periods.