BusinessDay

SCI’s intervention reduced child marriage in Nigeria – FG

The federal government has said the prevalence of child marriage has reduced while sexual and reproductive health of adolescents improved due to the intervention of Save the Children International (SCI).

Minister of health, Osagie Ehanire commended SCI for the feat which was achieved through its Reaching and Empowering Adolescents to make Informed Choices for Their Health in Nigeria (REACH) project.

The minister noted that the REACH project also achieved its set objectives on early childbearing, educational attainment, gender-based violence, decisions ability and access/utilisation of services and improved sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) knowledge.

Ehanire, who was represented by Salma Anas, Director, Family Health, said this at the Close out ceremony of the REACH project organized by SCI in partnership with Canada held in Abuja.

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Shannon Ward, acting country director, SCI, in her welcome address said the agency has been implementing the REACH project since 2018 in Gombe, Katsina and Zamfara states;
with the objectives of ensuring that adolescent girls and boys (aged 10-19 years) have access to “gender responsive” adolescent sexual and reproductive health services and rights; and also uptake in the utilization of the services.

The acting country director disclosed that the project, since its three years of implementation has graduated over 100,000 married and unmarried adolescents and very young adolescents from facilitated safe-spaces, improving their knowledge on the access and utilization of SRH services, personal hygiene, understanding gender equality, and much more.

She also informed that the project has in-directly and directly reached 183,164 people through its various approaches.

She added, “The project has targeted 62 health facilities providing capacity strengthening to 293 health workers on a series of clinical trainings (LARC- Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives , Prevention and management of STI, post Abortive care, CLMS-Contraceptives Logistic Management System , Family Planning (FP) counselling, sexual and gender-based violence and much more.

“In the face of a myriad of systemic and structural limiting social normspcluding gender norms, the above stated progress is heartwarming and indicative of the change that can come about with sustained collaboration, engagement and interventions at all levels, particularly gender transformative programming that is in alignment with Community needs.”

The REACH Programme Director, Rahinatu Hussaini noted that the project targeted adolescents because they face considerable sexual and reproductive health risks.

Hussaini disclosed that early and unintended pregnancy affected the lives of millions of adolescents across Nigeria, as 11.6 percent of girls were married by age 15 and 49 percent were married by 18, with wide regional disparities.

While giving the breakdown of the outcome of the project, she said adolescent girls who were married before the age of 15 fell from 54 percent to 41 percent.

The director added that health workers trained to deliver gender-responsive adolescent friendly SRH services moved from 31 percent to 84 percent, while health facilities delivering gender-responsive adolescent friendly SRH services moved from 0 percent to 77 percent.

She highlighted insecurity and the lack of health facilities and personnel in the states, as some of the factors that affected the implementation of the project.

 

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