Government must harmonize youth policy – Prof Akosah
Professor Agyemang Badu Akosa, a Pathologist at the Ghana Medical School, has said government must harmonize the various youth policies to create the congenial environment for the youth to realise their full potentials.
He said the nation has not given the youth of today the appropriate opportunity to exploit their full potential culminating in high teenage pregnancy, school dropouts, unwanted and unsafe abortions, soaring mortality rates and a number of them also sleeping on the streets.
Professor Akosa said this in a key note address during an International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) West Africa Youth Leadership Conference in Accra on Monday.
The conference, hosting youth group leaders from Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone, was on the theme: ICPD countdown to 2014: Shaping an Agenda for Youth Leadership in West Africa and beyond.
Professor Akosa said Ghana has one of the finest youth policies, however, she has not properly acted upon it to the realization of the talents and exceptional qualities of the youth for national development.
He said “rather, other countries have copied and refined these policies to their advantage”.
He called for direct involvement of the youth in policy formulation and implementation so as to make them own those policies and show greater commitment to their realisation.
It is regrettable that delivery of youth friendly Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) facilities is confronted with “limited equipment, negative cultural attitudes towards adolescent SRH services and inadequate trained health personnel.
“In addition to lack of empowerment among the youth to demand services and lack of community or societal support”, Professor Akosa said.
The consequences of these challenges are that teenage pregnancies, unsafe abortions, mortalities continue to be high and contribute greatly to maternal mortality and morbidity in developing countries including Ghana, he said.
Professor Akosa noted that stimulating the interest, involvement and active participation of the youth in the ICPD process would result in synergistic results in improving sexual reproductive health outcomes of the youth.
He added that helping young people would create opportunities for them to develop their talents and become lead advocates for reproductive health issues.
According to the International Parenthood Planned Parenthood Federation people born in 1994 form part of the largest cohort of young people the world had ever seen.
In sub-Sahara Africa, they compose more than 40 per cent of the total population while those under 30 years represent 70 per cent.
The conference was organised by the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights in collaboration with the Population Council of Ghana, Professor Fred Sai, an international expert in sexual reproduction, and supported by the Ford Foundation.