The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) urges government at all levels in the country to prioritise human development to address some health challenges.
Dr Lu Wei Pearson, Associate Director of Maternal and Newborn Child Health at UNICEF, made the call during a two-day visit to some adolescent health programming centres supported by UNICEF in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the centres visited included Tolu Community in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government, Hello Lagos Adolescent and Youth Friendly Centre at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).
Others were the Iwaya Primary Health Centre Yaba, Lagos Mainland LGA and Atan Street Empire Agege Motor Road.
Pearson said: “Nigeria is a country full of resources, both mineral and human resources, but yet the country is far behind in human development.
“Nigeria has one of the highest rates of child mortality, maternal mortality, malnutrition and other health issues.
“Young people and the social media influencers need to speak up to change the narrative and hold government at all levels accountable and health institutions”.
Speaking also, Dr Victoria Isiramen, a Health Specialist with UNICEF Nigeria, stressed the need for young people to be frequently engaged on topical health issues that affect them.
Isiramen, an HIV specialist noted that apart from sexual reproductive health, young people are being confronted with other issues that should be tackled.
“Sometimes when we sit down in conferences and talk about young people, what do they need? What should we do for them?.
“Most of the time when we talk about young people, we usually refer to sexual reproductive health which is very important but it is not comprehensive enough.
“Mental health, peer pressure, poor parental supports, financial pressure for girls, stressful environment among others also affect young people, going by what we have encountered with some of them we talked to.
“That is why these centres supported by UNICEF are helping to engage young people and give them information on health services.
Also, Dr Ijeoma Agbo, a Health Specialist UNICEF Nigeria, said the organisation’s visit to the Iwaya Health Centre in Yaba was to assess the services provided to children and women.
Agbo stressed the need to establish functional PHCs across Wards to create more access to health services.
“Primary health centres are very important because they are the starting point of health care at the grassroots and we are here to see what the government has been doing with the support from UNICEF.
“UNICEF has been at the forefront advocating to government to have functional PHCs in terms of services being provided”.
Dr Egemba Chinonso, a social media influencer popularly know as ‘Aproko Doctor’ said adolescents should be given a voice to air their concerns on health issues.
Chinonso commended UNICEF for engaging young people through their programmes.
“This is a very good initiative from UNICEF to educate young people on topical health issues that would be of benefit to them.
“From the culture aspect, it looks like adolescents don’t have a voice but programmes like these give them the platform to talk about what affects them,” he said.
In her own view, Bamike Olawumi, a reality T.V star popularly known as Bambam, said the visit had given young people the opportunity to be educated on general reproductive health and well-being.
Olawumi called for more advocacy to proffer solutions to challenges that affect young people in the country. (NAN)