African leaders urged to invest in Sexual and Reproductive Health

By Kodjo
Adams, GNA

Accra, Sept. 30, GNA – Mr Sam Ntalemo, the
Representative of the International Plan Parenthood Federation, Africa Region,
has called on African leaders to invest in Sexual and Reproductive Health and
Rights (SRHR) of their citizenry.

He said with the right investments, young
people, especially girls, would be in school to prepare them for their
responsibilities as citizens and foster a healthy and productive working life
and relationships.Mr Ntalemo made the call at the weekend at a press briefing
for an International Conference on Population and Development to be organised
in Accra.

The conference will begin from September 30 to
October 5, bringing together more than 150 civil society organisations in
Africa to discuss progress made towards achieving sexual and reproductive
health and rights.

He said there was the need to invest in
policies and programmes that harnessed the potential of the young people and
ensured they were healthy, educated and employable.

Mr Ntalemo said one critical area of
investment was young people’s sexual and reproductive health.

Research shows that investments in
reproductive health would help protect the well-being of young people, maximise
their potential for healthy, productive lives, and improve social and economic
development.

Mr Ntalemo said about 30 per cent of Africans
were between the ages of 15-29 and that the next decades would provide an
opportunity for Africa to draw on the capacities and contributions of the youth
in ensuring sustainable development.

He explained that this would be dependent on
the extent to which young people are educated, healthy and empowered to make
informed decisions about their bodies and lives, including to live free from
HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Madam Abena Acheampong, the Executive Director
of Plan Parenthood Association of Ghana, said this year two research studies
had been undertaken on sexual and reproductive health and rights in Africa; the
state of African Women Report, and the Africa Population and Development Index.

She said both research studies confirmed that
although progress had been made at various levels, competing priorities for
resources and insufficient political by governments had resulted in high
adolescent fertility and threats to the realisation of the Demographic
Dividend.

She said the civil society organisations
deliberations would be informed by the two research studies, especially in
identifying key messages that would be shared with African Union Member States.

Madam Janet Ahiagba, the President of Youth
Action Movement, urged African leaders to engaged the youth in the decision
making process to ensure holistic national development.

GNA

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