In continuance of active involvement in improving adolescent health and well-being, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has deepened its awareness efforts centred on the concerns of the youths and collaborates with the Lagos State Agency for the Control of AIDS (LSACA) on community outreaches.
The issues affecting adolescents include physical health, mental health, nutrition, education, hygiene, and access to essential services.
UNICEF visited Tolu community in the Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government Area and Empire Community Surulere, Lagos. The Yello Lagos Adolescent and Youth friendly centre, LASUTH, Ikeja and Iwaya Primary Health Centre, Lagos Mainland LGA were not excluded during the outreach tour.
The outreach is themed ‘YAaHNaija’ to offer children and adolescents the right sensitisation to prepare them for adulthood.
Also supported by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), the outreach had healthcare workers offer HIV status checks, COVID-19 vaccination and immunisation exercises for children in the community.
Speaking at this tour, on Tuesday during the Community Outreach, Mireille Tribie, regional HIV specialist for West and Central Africa at UNICEF stated that the health situation in the communities visited are concern adding that it has always been an important vision to visit Nigeria due to population and indicators, “everything that happens in Nigeria affects not only the African continent but the world.”
According to her, children are our future, and as they grow into adolescence, we need to make sure we continue to prepare them health-wise and education-wise, to become responsible adults because they are becoming the future politicians and governors, making decisions on behalf of the entire population.
“UNICEF’s commitment to ensuring that Children always have a voice in all contemporary issues.”
“The 2023 National Conference on Adolescent Health offers a chance to directly listen to the thoughts of young people, which would be highly useful in determining ways to properly guard their all-round health,” Tribie said.
Also speaking, Lu Wei Pearson, associate director of Health, Maternal and Newborn Child Health section chief, UNICEF said that all hands needed to be on deck to realise a significant change in adolescent well-being.
“It is not only based on healthcare – education, unemployment, mental health and the physical exercise and housing. There are many challenges and it is important for the government and the Civil Societies to find solutions.
“Also, Young People need to create their own solutions. They really need to make sure they get schooling, especially the girls; they must complete their primary and secondary education and ensure they do not expose themselves to unhealthy behaviour. They should have good nutrition and they should have a healthy lifestyle,” she said.
Emphasising the community outreaches at Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government Area and Empire Community Surulere, there is a huge gap that is needed to be breached in other to attain conducive living.
She added that while UNICEF definitely had a role to play in ensuring that more communities like Ajeromi-Ifelodun were able to improve all-around living conditions, the primary obligation rested on the shoulders of the government at both Federal and Local levels.
“The government of Nigeria has ambitious plans, to provide primary healthcare and essential health services for every population. That means that UNICEF here is to support the government’s agenda.
Even in this urban slum, we have a lot of challenges – crowded living, and poor water sanitation. It is primarily for the government and the local government to take responsibility. And wherever there is a gap or additional areas where UNICEF can support the government and Civil Societies, we should do so. We are really here for children, for women and for their best interests,” Pearson said.