DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, March 14, 2018
A workshop to formulate a National Adolescent Health Strategy is being hosted by the Ministry of Public Health’s Adolescent Health Unit in collaboration with PAHO/WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA.
The workshop is being held at Cara Lodge, Quamina, Street Georgetown from March 14 to 16, 2018.
The over-arching goal of this meeting, Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings noted, is consultation with key stakeholders to formulate a strategy that captures the structure and design of safety-net services at the level of primary health care and further speciality care. This includes mental health, sexual and reproductive health, oral health, and substance abuse treatment and prevention services.
“Many of the health issues faced by adolescents are preventable. A comprehensive national strategy will ensure that our adolescent health services can place greater emphasis on health promotion, disease prevention, and youth development,” Minister Cummings explained.
She added that “in order to improve the health and achievement of youth and ensure their maturation into productive members of society, the collaborative effort of families, schools, public health, non-government and faith-based organizations, other stakeholders as well as the youth themselves is required”.
To this end, a wide cross-section of stakeholders was invited to be a part of the workshop, including the Peace Corps, Faith-Based organisations, Ministries of Social Protection, Education, Public Health and students of secondary and tertiary institutions in the city.
UNICEF’s Deputy Representative to Guyana and Suriname, Paolo Marchi lauded the MoPH for taking the initiative, “we commend the MoPH and particularly the adolescent health unit in taking this initiative to develop a new strategy ensuring adolescent rights in general, especially their right to health will be protected”.
Marchi added that in doing so, the disconnect in the legal age of sexual consent and official age for accessing critical sexual and reproductive health services needs to be addressed.
According to UNFPA’s Representative, Adler Bynoe, the Ministry of Public Health has made significant strides towards the provision of integrated adolescent sexual and reproductive health services via primary healthcare facilities.
The application of the Global Accelerated Action for the Health of Adolescents (AA-HA!), Bynoe said will “provide us with a unique opportunity to reassess what has been done to-date, the gaps which exist, and the evidence-based approaches needed to scale up our impact; geared at improving the health and well-being of adolescents in Guyana.”
Globally, adolescents represent a major demographic and socio-economic force and are also a major factor in influencing public health trends. Currently, adolescents are estimated at one fifth (or 20 percent) of the world’s population. According to the 2012 population and housing census, in Guyana, adolescents represent 23 percent of the population.
Seeking to establish this national adolescent health strategy is in line with the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children and Adolescents’ Health (2016 – 2030). This Global Strategy is a new roadmap for ending all preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths, including stillbirths, by 2030, and improving their overall health and well-being.
Essentially, it aims to keep women and children at the heart of the sustainable development agenda, unlocking their vast potential for transformative change.
This national strategy is expected to be responsive enough to enable adequate preventive action, set priorities, create plans, as well as implement and evaluate universal health care options and health promotion initiatives, primarily focused on adolescents.
Image: Senior officials (seated) along with participants of the National Consultation for Formulation of a National Adolescent Health Strategy Workshop.