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Latest news from IPPF

Spotlight

A selection of news from across the Federation

Zoe Flood_Somaliland_IPPF
News item

Quel prix pour un monde libéré des mutilations génitales féminines ?

Par Marie-Evelyne Pétrus-Barry et Anush Aghabalyan
Ghana
news item

| 08 February 2022

Ghana offers free long-term contraception in a ‘game changer’ for women’s reproductive health rights

In a major win for women’s reproductive rights, Ghana’s National Health Insurance Program has expanded to include free long-term contraception from 1 January 2022. The move will allow millions of women of reproductive age who are already covered by national health insurance to avoid paying out of pocket for family planning methods such as the implant, coil and injections. It comes after a two-year pilot study found that including family planning services in health benefits packages resulted in a greater uptake of long-term contraception and future government savings in direct care costs.   “We are excited that at long last, long-term family planning methods are included in the National Health Insurance Scheme,” said Abena Adubea Amoah, the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood of Ghana (PPAG), an IPPF Member Association. “This means long time peace of mind for women, girls and their families with potential positive impact on their health and economic life.”   Tackling deep-rooted barriers to healthcare In late 2021, the government of Ghana launched a year-long campaign aimed at raising awareness of and preventing maternal deaths in line with Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The role of family planning in reducing preventable maternal death is well documented, with unsafe abortion being one of the leading causes. Yet, Ghana is a country where deep-rooted cultural norms and structural barriers perpetuate poor sexual and reproductive health, including high risks of maternal mortality, high numbers of sexually transmitted infections and low levels of contraceptive use. Despite making important progress in recent years, Ghana’s maternal mortality ratio is 308 per 100,000 live births, which is still well above the SDG target of less than 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.   PPAG will play an important role in supporting the government in its campaign to prevent maternal deaths and disabilities. Since 1967, PPAG has provided the people of Ghana with family planning services as well as maternal and child health care, infertility management, and voluntary counselling and testing for sexually transmitted infections including HIV and AIDS. With over 100 staff members, a team of 1,000 volunteers, and 300 peer educators, PPAG is well-positioned to deliver health services and programmes through permanent and mobile clinics in urban and rural communities across the country. The association's Youth Action Team, comprised of over 810 young people, leads a number of educational and awareness-raising activities at 1000 community-based service points across the country.  The contraceptive injection, implant, IUD - some of the options on offer to women in Ghana. Image: Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition “The youth of Ghana remain the bedrock of the country’s socio-economic development and a critical force for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals alongside the African Union Agenda 2063,” said Ishmael Selassie, PPAG’s Youth Programmes Manager. “The recent move by the government of Ghana to make contraceptives and related services covered by the national health insurance scheme is a game changer. The youth of this country, especially the poor, vulnerable and adolescent girls can hopefully live a healthy sexual life with the assurance of unhindered access to family planning and contraceptive services.”    Expanded, free access to long-term contraception is also a progressive step towards the global goal of Universal Health Coverage by 2030 – a framework that allows all individuals and communities to receive the health services and care they need without suffering financial hardship.   Reaching women through community-based services Still, nearly half (3.7 million) of an estimated 7.7 million women of reproductive age in Ghana do not have health insurance and family planning services may continue to be unaffordable for many. Inequitable distribution of health care facilities across the country means that many women in rural communities do not have access to lifesaving family planning and other sexual and reproductive health care services. Reaching these women through community-based services, and encouraging them to sign up to the newly expanded health insurance program will be crucial in ensuring the government reaches its goal of zero tolerance for maternal deaths and disabilities by 2030.   To support these efforts, PPAG deploys trained community volunteers to provide information, education and selected family planning services in their local communities. Emmanuel Akoto, the director of Programmes and Service Delivery at PPAG, said these volunteers play an important role in delivering contraceptives to the ‘doorsteps’ of those in need.   “They serve as a link between their community and health facilities within their localities, complementing the efforts of health care providers by creating demand and making referrals for sexual and reproductive health services,” he said. “This concept is very important because it is community-owned, devoid of stigmatization, cost effective and sustainable.”   As an established leader in Sub-Saharan Africa in providing health benefits packages paid for by the government, Ghana may serve as an example to other countries looking to expand universal health coverage by providing reliable family planning services for millions of women around the world.   For more updates on our work, follow IPPF Africa Region on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and You Tube.

Ghana
news_item

| 08 February 2022

Ghana offers free long-term contraception in a ‘game changer’ for women’s reproductive health rights

In a major win for women’s reproductive rights, Ghana’s National Health Insurance Program has expanded to include free long-term contraception from 1 January 2022. The move will allow millions of women of reproductive age who are already covered by national health insurance to avoid paying out of pocket for family planning methods such as the implant, coil and injections. It comes after a two-year pilot study found that including family planning services in health benefits packages resulted in a greater uptake of long-term contraception and future government savings in direct care costs.   “We are excited that at long last, long-term family planning methods are included in the National Health Insurance Scheme,” said Abena Adubea Amoah, the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood of Ghana (PPAG), an IPPF Member Association. “This means long time peace of mind for women, girls and their families with potential positive impact on their health and economic life.”   Tackling deep-rooted barriers to healthcare In late 2021, the government of Ghana launched a year-long campaign aimed at raising awareness of and preventing maternal deaths in line with Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The role of family planning in reducing preventable maternal death is well documented, with unsafe abortion being one of the leading causes. Yet, Ghana is a country where deep-rooted cultural norms and structural barriers perpetuate poor sexual and reproductive health, including high risks of maternal mortality, high numbers of sexually transmitted infections and low levels of contraceptive use. Despite making important progress in recent years, Ghana’s maternal mortality ratio is 308 per 100,000 live births, which is still well above the SDG target of less than 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.   PPAG will play an important role in supporting the government in its campaign to prevent maternal deaths and disabilities. Since 1967, PPAG has provided the people of Ghana with family planning services as well as maternal and child health care, infertility management, and voluntary counselling and testing for sexually transmitted infections including HIV and AIDS. With over 100 staff members, a team of 1,000 volunteers, and 300 peer educators, PPAG is well-positioned to deliver health services and programmes through permanent and mobile clinics in urban and rural communities across the country. The association's Youth Action Team, comprised of over 810 young people, leads a number of educational and awareness-raising activities at 1000 community-based service points across the country.  The contraceptive injection, implant, IUD - some of the options on offer to women in Ghana. Image: Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition “The youth of Ghana remain the bedrock of the country’s socio-economic development and a critical force for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals alongside the African Union Agenda 2063,” said Ishmael Selassie, PPAG’s Youth Programmes Manager. “The recent move by the government of Ghana to make contraceptives and related services covered by the national health insurance scheme is a game changer. The youth of this country, especially the poor, vulnerable and adolescent girls can hopefully live a healthy sexual life with the assurance of unhindered access to family planning and contraceptive services.”    Expanded, free access to long-term contraception is also a progressive step towards the global goal of Universal Health Coverage by 2030 – a framework that allows all individuals and communities to receive the health services and care they need without suffering financial hardship.   Reaching women through community-based services Still, nearly half (3.7 million) of an estimated 7.7 million women of reproductive age in Ghana do not have health insurance and family planning services may continue to be unaffordable for many. Inequitable distribution of health care facilities across the country means that many women in rural communities do not have access to lifesaving family planning and other sexual and reproductive health care services. Reaching these women through community-based services, and encouraging them to sign up to the newly expanded health insurance program will be crucial in ensuring the government reaches its goal of zero tolerance for maternal deaths and disabilities by 2030.   To support these efforts, PPAG deploys trained community volunteers to provide information, education and selected family planning services in their local communities. Emmanuel Akoto, the director of Programmes and Service Delivery at PPAG, said these volunteers play an important role in delivering contraceptives to the ‘doorsteps’ of those in need.   “They serve as a link between their community and health facilities within their localities, complementing the efforts of health care providers by creating demand and making referrals for sexual and reproductive health services,” he said. “This concept is very important because it is community-owned, devoid of stigmatization, cost effective and sustainable.”   As an established leader in Sub-Saharan Africa in providing health benefits packages paid for by the government, Ghana may serve as an example to other countries looking to expand universal health coverage by providing reliable family planning services for millions of women around the world.   For more updates on our work, follow IPPF Africa Region on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and You Tube.

YOUTH
news item

| 13 January 2022

Africa Youth Month: Taking Stock of Africa’s Commitments to Young People

It is now slightly more than 15 years since the Assembly of the Heads of States of the African Union adopted the Africa Youth Charter in Banjul, The Gambia. Although this Charter provides a strategic framework towards consolidating an approach for the enforcement of meaningful youth involvement in Africa's development agenda, the ideals of this Charter are yet to be realized by young people in their diversities.  Indeed, Africa's development agenda must be linked to the health and well-being of its young people. The United Nations World Population Prospects has documented an incremental growth in young people between the ages of 15 – 24 in Africa since 1952 and this growth has continued to escalate throughout the years. The report also projects that by 2030, over half of the countries in Africa will have more than a 40 per cent increase in the number of young people. These figures demonstrate the need for more meaningful engagement of young people who will be the driving force behind the continent's development agenda.  The sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young people in Africa is an agenda that requires a thorough reflection and a particular prioritization by all stakeholders. Young people's sexual and reproductive health needs are most often overlooked due to a myriad of factors, including customs and taboos which impede their access to contraceptives, parental or spousal consent legislations, Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services that are inadequate or ill-adapted to cater to the diversity of needs of young people. In addition, adolescents and young people lack information on menstrual hygiene, different types of STIs, contraception, prevention of sexual violence, among other topics. Yet this information is vital in enabling them to make informed decisions and equiping them with skills they need to fully enjoy their SRHR. This problematic situation has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated the vulnerability of young people, with many exposed to sexual and gender-based violence, sexual exploitation, and as well as the closure of clinics and other emergency support services. As many school closed, adolescent girls and young women have been particularly affected and teenage pregnancies have risen as a result of sexual violence and a lack of information on SRH education.     Consequently, this year, as the African Union dedicates the month of November to celebrate Africa’s Youth under the theme " Defining the Future Today: Youth-Led Solutions for Building the Africa We Want”, it is essential that the continent reflects and acts on its commitment towards young people as highlighted in its development agenda 2063 and specifically in the Africa Youth Charter. Young people in Africa are not vulnerable, but they are made vulnerable when they are not involved, heard, engaged, allowed to lead, able to share their ideas of where they want to see the continent in the following years and provided with the knowledge and information necessary to make their own choices and to determine their destiny, particularly concerning their sexual and reproductive health and rights.    Africa is not short of young people who can lead, provide the change we want, and support advancing Africa's development agenda. In Ghana, the Youth Action Movement (YAM), a nationwide network of young people leading and promoting young people's SRHR, has defined itself as a movement by and for Ghanaian youth. The movement’s advocacy on SRHR information and services and young people has led to an increase in young people taking leadership positions, campaigning and  engaging the government on sexual and reproductive health. The YAM has advocated for a positive change in access to youth friendly services at the community level. This has led to an increase in the number of clinics providing youth-friendly SRHR services in Ghana. The movement has also complemented government efforts by providing SRHR information and services to the general population, particularly adolescents, women, men and vulnerable groups, including persons living with a disability. The YAM is also actively involved in linking young people to services through the outreach programme organized by the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana programme entitled "YENKASA", meaning ‘let's talk’ in local Twi language. Since its establishment in 2020, the contact center has responded to the SRHR needs and challenges of thousands of young people in Ghana.   The youth in Africa continue to demonstrate that they are capable and ready to be entrusted drivers and partners in Africa’s development agenda, including in the field of SRHR. It is now for Africa’s leaders and institutions to give them the trust and the space that they have strived for and earned.   Anita Nyanjong is the Global Lead, Youth at International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).  Claudia Lawson is the Youth Action Movement (YAM) President, Ghana.

YOUTH
news_item

| 13 January 2022

Africa Youth Month: Taking Stock of Africa’s Commitments to Young People

It is now slightly more than 15 years since the Assembly of the Heads of States of the African Union adopted the Africa Youth Charter in Banjul, The Gambia. Although this Charter provides a strategic framework towards consolidating an approach for the enforcement of meaningful youth involvement in Africa's development agenda, the ideals of this Charter are yet to be realized by young people in their diversities.  Indeed, Africa's development agenda must be linked to the health and well-being of its young people. The United Nations World Population Prospects has documented an incremental growth in young people between the ages of 15 – 24 in Africa since 1952 and this growth has continued to escalate throughout the years. The report also projects that by 2030, over half of the countries in Africa will have more than a 40 per cent increase in the number of young people. These figures demonstrate the need for more meaningful engagement of young people who will be the driving force behind the continent's development agenda.  The sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young people in Africa is an agenda that requires a thorough reflection and a particular prioritization by all stakeholders. Young people's sexual and reproductive health needs are most often overlooked due to a myriad of factors, including customs and taboos which impede their access to contraceptives, parental or spousal consent legislations, Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services that are inadequate or ill-adapted to cater to the diversity of needs of young people. In addition, adolescents and young people lack information on menstrual hygiene, different types of STIs, contraception, prevention of sexual violence, among other topics. Yet this information is vital in enabling them to make informed decisions and equiping them with skills they need to fully enjoy their SRHR. This problematic situation has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated the vulnerability of young people, with many exposed to sexual and gender-based violence, sexual exploitation, and as well as the closure of clinics and other emergency support services. As many school closed, adolescent girls and young women have been particularly affected and teenage pregnancies have risen as a result of sexual violence and a lack of information on SRH education.     Consequently, this year, as the African Union dedicates the month of November to celebrate Africa’s Youth under the theme " Defining the Future Today: Youth-Led Solutions for Building the Africa We Want”, it is essential that the continent reflects and acts on its commitment towards young people as highlighted in its development agenda 2063 and specifically in the Africa Youth Charter. Young people in Africa are not vulnerable, but they are made vulnerable when they are not involved, heard, engaged, allowed to lead, able to share their ideas of where they want to see the continent in the following years and provided with the knowledge and information necessary to make their own choices and to determine their destiny, particularly concerning their sexual and reproductive health and rights.    Africa is not short of young people who can lead, provide the change we want, and support advancing Africa's development agenda. In Ghana, the Youth Action Movement (YAM), a nationwide network of young people leading and promoting young people's SRHR, has defined itself as a movement by and for Ghanaian youth. The movement’s advocacy on SRHR information and services and young people has led to an increase in young people taking leadership positions, campaigning and  engaging the government on sexual and reproductive health. The YAM has advocated for a positive change in access to youth friendly services at the community level. This has led to an increase in the number of clinics providing youth-friendly SRHR services in Ghana. The movement has also complemented government efforts by providing SRHR information and services to the general population, particularly adolescents, women, men and vulnerable groups, including persons living with a disability. The YAM is also actively involved in linking young people to services through the outreach programme organized by the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana programme entitled "YENKASA", meaning ‘let's talk’ in local Twi language. Since its establishment in 2020, the contact center has responded to the SRHR needs and challenges of thousands of young people in Ghana.   The youth in Africa continue to demonstrate that they are capable and ready to be entrusted drivers and partners in Africa’s development agenda, including in the field of SRHR. It is now for Africa’s leaders and institutions to give them the trust and the space that they have strived for and earned.   Anita Nyanjong is the Global Lead, Youth at International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).  Claudia Lawson is the Youth Action Movement (YAM) President, Ghana.

Ghana
news item

| 08 February 2022

Ghana offers free long-term contraception in a ‘game changer’ for women’s reproductive health rights

In a major win for women’s reproductive rights, Ghana’s National Health Insurance Program has expanded to include free long-term contraception from 1 January 2022. The move will allow millions of women of reproductive age who are already covered by national health insurance to avoid paying out of pocket for family planning methods such as the implant, coil and injections. It comes after a two-year pilot study found that including family planning services in health benefits packages resulted in a greater uptake of long-term contraception and future government savings in direct care costs.   “We are excited that at long last, long-term family planning methods are included in the National Health Insurance Scheme,” said Abena Adubea Amoah, the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood of Ghana (PPAG), an IPPF Member Association. “This means long time peace of mind for women, girls and their families with potential positive impact on their health and economic life.”   Tackling deep-rooted barriers to healthcare In late 2021, the government of Ghana launched a year-long campaign aimed at raising awareness of and preventing maternal deaths in line with Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The role of family planning in reducing preventable maternal death is well documented, with unsafe abortion being one of the leading causes. Yet, Ghana is a country where deep-rooted cultural norms and structural barriers perpetuate poor sexual and reproductive health, including high risks of maternal mortality, high numbers of sexually transmitted infections and low levels of contraceptive use. Despite making important progress in recent years, Ghana’s maternal mortality ratio is 308 per 100,000 live births, which is still well above the SDG target of less than 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.   PPAG will play an important role in supporting the government in its campaign to prevent maternal deaths and disabilities. Since 1967, PPAG has provided the people of Ghana with family planning services as well as maternal and child health care, infertility management, and voluntary counselling and testing for sexually transmitted infections including HIV and AIDS. With over 100 staff members, a team of 1,000 volunteers, and 300 peer educators, PPAG is well-positioned to deliver health services and programmes through permanent and mobile clinics in urban and rural communities across the country. The association's Youth Action Team, comprised of over 810 young people, leads a number of educational and awareness-raising activities at 1000 community-based service points across the country.  The contraceptive injection, implant, IUD - some of the options on offer to women in Ghana. Image: Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition “The youth of Ghana remain the bedrock of the country’s socio-economic development and a critical force for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals alongside the African Union Agenda 2063,” said Ishmael Selassie, PPAG’s Youth Programmes Manager. “The recent move by the government of Ghana to make contraceptives and related services covered by the national health insurance scheme is a game changer. The youth of this country, especially the poor, vulnerable and adolescent girls can hopefully live a healthy sexual life with the assurance of unhindered access to family planning and contraceptive services.”    Expanded, free access to long-term contraception is also a progressive step towards the global goal of Universal Health Coverage by 2030 – a framework that allows all individuals and communities to receive the health services and care they need without suffering financial hardship.   Reaching women through community-based services Still, nearly half (3.7 million) of an estimated 7.7 million women of reproductive age in Ghana do not have health insurance and family planning services may continue to be unaffordable for many. Inequitable distribution of health care facilities across the country means that many women in rural communities do not have access to lifesaving family planning and other sexual and reproductive health care services. Reaching these women through community-based services, and encouraging them to sign up to the newly expanded health insurance program will be crucial in ensuring the government reaches its goal of zero tolerance for maternal deaths and disabilities by 2030.   To support these efforts, PPAG deploys trained community volunteers to provide information, education and selected family planning services in their local communities. Emmanuel Akoto, the director of Programmes and Service Delivery at PPAG, said these volunteers play an important role in delivering contraceptives to the ‘doorsteps’ of those in need.   “They serve as a link between their community and health facilities within their localities, complementing the efforts of health care providers by creating demand and making referrals for sexual and reproductive health services,” he said. “This concept is very important because it is community-owned, devoid of stigmatization, cost effective and sustainable.”   As an established leader in Sub-Saharan Africa in providing health benefits packages paid for by the government, Ghana may serve as an example to other countries looking to expand universal health coverage by providing reliable family planning services for millions of women around the world.   For more updates on our work, follow IPPF Africa Region on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and You Tube.

Ghana
news_item

| 08 February 2022

Ghana offers free long-term contraception in a ‘game changer’ for women’s reproductive health rights

In a major win for women’s reproductive rights, Ghana’s National Health Insurance Program has expanded to include free long-term contraception from 1 January 2022. The move will allow millions of women of reproductive age who are already covered by national health insurance to avoid paying out of pocket for family planning methods such as the implant, coil and injections. It comes after a two-year pilot study found that including family planning services in health benefits packages resulted in a greater uptake of long-term contraception and future government savings in direct care costs.   “We are excited that at long last, long-term family planning methods are included in the National Health Insurance Scheme,” said Abena Adubea Amoah, the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood of Ghana (PPAG), an IPPF Member Association. “This means long time peace of mind for women, girls and their families with potential positive impact on their health and economic life.”   Tackling deep-rooted barriers to healthcare In late 2021, the government of Ghana launched a year-long campaign aimed at raising awareness of and preventing maternal deaths in line with Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The role of family planning in reducing preventable maternal death is well documented, with unsafe abortion being one of the leading causes. Yet, Ghana is a country where deep-rooted cultural norms and structural barriers perpetuate poor sexual and reproductive health, including high risks of maternal mortality, high numbers of sexually transmitted infections and low levels of contraceptive use. Despite making important progress in recent years, Ghana’s maternal mortality ratio is 308 per 100,000 live births, which is still well above the SDG target of less than 70 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.   PPAG will play an important role in supporting the government in its campaign to prevent maternal deaths and disabilities. Since 1967, PPAG has provided the people of Ghana with family planning services as well as maternal and child health care, infertility management, and voluntary counselling and testing for sexually transmitted infections including HIV and AIDS. With over 100 staff members, a team of 1,000 volunteers, and 300 peer educators, PPAG is well-positioned to deliver health services and programmes through permanent and mobile clinics in urban and rural communities across the country. The association's Youth Action Team, comprised of over 810 young people, leads a number of educational and awareness-raising activities at 1000 community-based service points across the country.  The contraceptive injection, implant, IUD - some of the options on offer to women in Ghana. Image: Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition “The youth of Ghana remain the bedrock of the country’s socio-economic development and a critical force for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals alongside the African Union Agenda 2063,” said Ishmael Selassie, PPAG’s Youth Programmes Manager. “The recent move by the government of Ghana to make contraceptives and related services covered by the national health insurance scheme is a game changer. The youth of this country, especially the poor, vulnerable and adolescent girls can hopefully live a healthy sexual life with the assurance of unhindered access to family planning and contraceptive services.”    Expanded, free access to long-term contraception is also a progressive step towards the global goal of Universal Health Coverage by 2030 – a framework that allows all individuals and communities to receive the health services and care they need without suffering financial hardship.   Reaching women through community-based services Still, nearly half (3.7 million) of an estimated 7.7 million women of reproductive age in Ghana do not have health insurance and family planning services may continue to be unaffordable for many. Inequitable distribution of health care facilities across the country means that many women in rural communities do not have access to lifesaving family planning and other sexual and reproductive health care services. Reaching these women through community-based services, and encouraging them to sign up to the newly expanded health insurance program will be crucial in ensuring the government reaches its goal of zero tolerance for maternal deaths and disabilities by 2030.   To support these efforts, PPAG deploys trained community volunteers to provide information, education and selected family planning services in their local communities. Emmanuel Akoto, the director of Programmes and Service Delivery at PPAG, said these volunteers play an important role in delivering contraceptives to the ‘doorsteps’ of those in need.   “They serve as a link between their community and health facilities within their localities, complementing the efforts of health care providers by creating demand and making referrals for sexual and reproductive health services,” he said. “This concept is very important because it is community-owned, devoid of stigmatization, cost effective and sustainable.”   As an established leader in Sub-Saharan Africa in providing health benefits packages paid for by the government, Ghana may serve as an example to other countries looking to expand universal health coverage by providing reliable family planning services for millions of women around the world.   For more updates on our work, follow IPPF Africa Region on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and You Tube.

YOUTH
news item

| 13 January 2022

Africa Youth Month: Taking Stock of Africa’s Commitments to Young People

It is now slightly more than 15 years since the Assembly of the Heads of States of the African Union adopted the Africa Youth Charter in Banjul, The Gambia. Although this Charter provides a strategic framework towards consolidating an approach for the enforcement of meaningful youth involvement in Africa's development agenda, the ideals of this Charter are yet to be realized by young people in their diversities.  Indeed, Africa's development agenda must be linked to the health and well-being of its young people. The United Nations World Population Prospects has documented an incremental growth in young people between the ages of 15 – 24 in Africa since 1952 and this growth has continued to escalate throughout the years. The report also projects that by 2030, over half of the countries in Africa will have more than a 40 per cent increase in the number of young people. These figures demonstrate the need for more meaningful engagement of young people who will be the driving force behind the continent's development agenda.  The sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young people in Africa is an agenda that requires a thorough reflection and a particular prioritization by all stakeholders. Young people's sexual and reproductive health needs are most often overlooked due to a myriad of factors, including customs and taboos which impede their access to contraceptives, parental or spousal consent legislations, Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services that are inadequate or ill-adapted to cater to the diversity of needs of young people. In addition, adolescents and young people lack information on menstrual hygiene, different types of STIs, contraception, prevention of sexual violence, among other topics. Yet this information is vital in enabling them to make informed decisions and equiping them with skills they need to fully enjoy their SRHR. This problematic situation has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated the vulnerability of young people, with many exposed to sexual and gender-based violence, sexual exploitation, and as well as the closure of clinics and other emergency support services. As many school closed, adolescent girls and young women have been particularly affected and teenage pregnancies have risen as a result of sexual violence and a lack of information on SRH education.     Consequently, this year, as the African Union dedicates the month of November to celebrate Africa’s Youth under the theme " Defining the Future Today: Youth-Led Solutions for Building the Africa We Want”, it is essential that the continent reflects and acts on its commitment towards young people as highlighted in its development agenda 2063 and specifically in the Africa Youth Charter. Young people in Africa are not vulnerable, but they are made vulnerable when they are not involved, heard, engaged, allowed to lead, able to share their ideas of where they want to see the continent in the following years and provided with the knowledge and information necessary to make their own choices and to determine their destiny, particularly concerning their sexual and reproductive health and rights.    Africa is not short of young people who can lead, provide the change we want, and support advancing Africa's development agenda. In Ghana, the Youth Action Movement (YAM), a nationwide network of young people leading and promoting young people's SRHR, has defined itself as a movement by and for Ghanaian youth. The movement’s advocacy on SRHR information and services and young people has led to an increase in young people taking leadership positions, campaigning and  engaging the government on sexual and reproductive health. The YAM has advocated for a positive change in access to youth friendly services at the community level. This has led to an increase in the number of clinics providing youth-friendly SRHR services in Ghana. The movement has also complemented government efforts by providing SRHR information and services to the general population, particularly adolescents, women, men and vulnerable groups, including persons living with a disability. The YAM is also actively involved in linking young people to services through the outreach programme organized by the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana programme entitled "YENKASA", meaning ‘let's talk’ in local Twi language. Since its establishment in 2020, the contact center has responded to the SRHR needs and challenges of thousands of young people in Ghana.   The youth in Africa continue to demonstrate that they are capable and ready to be entrusted drivers and partners in Africa’s development agenda, including in the field of SRHR. It is now for Africa’s leaders and institutions to give them the trust and the space that they have strived for and earned.   Anita Nyanjong is the Global Lead, Youth at International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).  Claudia Lawson is the Youth Action Movement (YAM) President, Ghana.

YOUTH
news_item

| 13 January 2022

Africa Youth Month: Taking Stock of Africa’s Commitments to Young People

It is now slightly more than 15 years since the Assembly of the Heads of States of the African Union adopted the Africa Youth Charter in Banjul, The Gambia. Although this Charter provides a strategic framework towards consolidating an approach for the enforcement of meaningful youth involvement in Africa's development agenda, the ideals of this Charter are yet to be realized by young people in their diversities.  Indeed, Africa's development agenda must be linked to the health and well-being of its young people. The United Nations World Population Prospects has documented an incremental growth in young people between the ages of 15 – 24 in Africa since 1952 and this growth has continued to escalate throughout the years. The report also projects that by 2030, over half of the countries in Africa will have more than a 40 per cent increase in the number of young people. These figures demonstrate the need for more meaningful engagement of young people who will be the driving force behind the continent's development agenda.  The sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young people in Africa is an agenda that requires a thorough reflection and a particular prioritization by all stakeholders. Young people's sexual and reproductive health needs are most often overlooked due to a myriad of factors, including customs and taboos which impede their access to contraceptives, parental or spousal consent legislations, Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services that are inadequate or ill-adapted to cater to the diversity of needs of young people. In addition, adolescents and young people lack information on menstrual hygiene, different types of STIs, contraception, prevention of sexual violence, among other topics. Yet this information is vital in enabling them to make informed decisions and equiping them with skills they need to fully enjoy their SRHR. This problematic situation has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated the vulnerability of young people, with many exposed to sexual and gender-based violence, sexual exploitation, and as well as the closure of clinics and other emergency support services. As many school closed, adolescent girls and young women have been particularly affected and teenage pregnancies have risen as a result of sexual violence and a lack of information on SRH education.     Consequently, this year, as the African Union dedicates the month of November to celebrate Africa’s Youth under the theme " Defining the Future Today: Youth-Led Solutions for Building the Africa We Want”, it is essential that the continent reflects and acts on its commitment towards young people as highlighted in its development agenda 2063 and specifically in the Africa Youth Charter. Young people in Africa are not vulnerable, but they are made vulnerable when they are not involved, heard, engaged, allowed to lead, able to share their ideas of where they want to see the continent in the following years and provided with the knowledge and information necessary to make their own choices and to determine their destiny, particularly concerning their sexual and reproductive health and rights.    Africa is not short of young people who can lead, provide the change we want, and support advancing Africa's development agenda. In Ghana, the Youth Action Movement (YAM), a nationwide network of young people leading and promoting young people's SRHR, has defined itself as a movement by and for Ghanaian youth. The movement’s advocacy on SRHR information and services and young people has led to an increase in young people taking leadership positions, campaigning and  engaging the government on sexual and reproductive health. The YAM has advocated for a positive change in access to youth friendly services at the community level. This has led to an increase in the number of clinics providing youth-friendly SRHR services in Ghana. The movement has also complemented government efforts by providing SRHR information and services to the general population, particularly adolescents, women, men and vulnerable groups, including persons living with a disability. The YAM is also actively involved in linking young people to services through the outreach programme organized by the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana programme entitled "YENKASA", meaning ‘let's talk’ in local Twi language. Since its establishment in 2020, the contact center has responded to the SRHR needs and challenges of thousands of young people in Ghana.   The youth in Africa continue to demonstrate that they are capable and ready to be entrusted drivers and partners in Africa’s development agenda, including in the field of SRHR. It is now for Africa’s leaders and institutions to give them the trust and the space that they have strived for and earned.   Anita Nyanjong is the Global Lead, Youth at International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).  Claudia Lawson is the Youth Action Movement (YAM) President, Ghana.