BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – The Ministry of Health’s Family Health Division has begun implementing a one-year project on adolescent sexual reproductive health and family planning, in an effort to stem an increase in teenage pregnancies and maternal deaths.
As part of the Global Financing Facility-sponsored project, two separate pieces of training with health workers from the county’s eight health districts are currently ongoing in Buchanan.
The family planning training started on April 4 with approximately 20 participants. It is expected to end today, April 11. Meanwhile, the adolescent sexual reproductive health training started on April 8 with 32 participants; it is expected to end on Friday.
According to the director of the Family Health Division, Bentoe Zoogley Tehoungue, the need for the project came from health statistics that showed that maternal deaths and teenage pregnancies are on the increase in six counties, including Grand Bassa.
Health authorities identified training for health workers as part of intervention packages designed to build the capacity of local and national health workers dealing with patients’ reproductive health.
Tehoungue noted that those undergoing training will, in return, train other health workers who are also working with reproductive health in the county.
“Some of them are currently implanting the program. [The] adolescent forum already started in communities – at PTA[parent-teacher association] meetings. Our staff goes there to provide education,” she added.
At the end of the training, Tehoungue said health workers will conduct a series of outreaches, awareness and family planning campaigns across the county to ensure that maternal deaths and teenage pregnancies are reduced.
She named sexual and gender-based violence, harmful traditional practices, and teenage pregnancy as factors affecting adolescents across the country.
“There are huge numbers of girl children who are out of school; it is contributing greatly to the maternal mortality rate – [the] increase in [the] number of people who die as a result of pregnancy-related cases. So, this program will help to educate adolescents and even the community dwellers,” Tehoungue said.
She noted that the one-year pilot project started in January 2019 with a meeting with representatives of government agencies to find a way to reduce maternal deaths and teenage pregnancies in the affected counties.
The pilot project will be completed in December of this year and subject to renewal based on the results and availability of funding.
One participant of the program who works at the Jacob Lahteh Clinic in Grand Bassa’s first district, Nathan Foko, said the training was helping him understand many key issues regarding reproductive health, including reproductive spacing, counseling of clients, and dealing with confidential issues.
He said he plans to put the lessons learned into practice as soon as he returns to his clinic.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly named the sponsor of the project as the World Bank. It has been corrected to show that the Global Financing Facility sponsored the project.
Featured photo by Sampson David