Monday, 28 April 2008

Hope for the future

Youths in developing countries have been given hope for a brighter future. Several speakers at the opening ceremony of the international conference on investing in young people’s health and development yesterday outlined the need to focus on the health and development of young people.

“To reduce the risks young people are exposed to and promote their positive development, nations and societies need to massively and strategically invest in young people’s development more than ever before,” said Hajia Turai Umar Yar ‘Adua, Nigeria’s First Lady.

According to the December 2007 African journal of Reproductive Health, Africa has a high burden of ill-health associated with adolescent reproductive health. However, there is little understanding of what needs to be done to reduce the magnitude of this problem.

Susan Rich of the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation outlined the Foundation’s commitment to making strategic investments in the health and development of young people, which will yield returns in future. Since 1995, the Foundation has invested $129 million to improve information and services to protect young people from HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancy.

It is good that society is starting to recognize the vulnerability of females. A study on protecting the next generation in sub Saharan Africa, which will be presented today reveals that adolescent females in sub-Saharan Africa tend to have sex at an earlier age than males. This puts them at a risk of unwanted pregnancies, HIV and other adverse outcomes. The study was carried out in Uganda, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Malawi. Nearly 60% of females have had sex by 18 years compared to 40-45% of the youth according to the study.

These findings, although alarming, will go a long way in tickling governments and policy makers particularly in the developing countries, where the biggest number of youth is based, to come up with realistic policies to ensure a bright future for the biggest composition of the global population.

Like different speakers noted yesterday, we cannot have a bright future without addressing the reproductive health concerns of the youth.

By Anthony Bugembe
The New Vision, Uganda

No comments: