Monday, 28 April 2008

Investing into young people’s health; quotes to ponder on

Young people have again attracted the attention of the world with the ongoing international conference on young people’s health and development. The opening ceremony of the conference under the theme ‘youth deliver the future,’ offered yet another volley of wonderful speeches punctuated with quotes for delegates to ponder once they return to their respective countries.

The First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mrs. Hajia Turai Umar Yar’adua, made an opening address that “the substantial increase in the number of young people globally presents us with more opportunities than challenges. Equipping this uniquely energetic and technologically minded population group with the best of the resources offers the best opportunity to move our world like never before. This is an opportunity we dare not miss; for the consequence of failure is too costly to contemplate.”

But the First Lady was not yet done. “To reduce the risks young people are exposed to and promote their development, nations and societies need to massively and strategically invest in young people’s development more than ever before,” she added.

From the First Lady’s speech it was apparent that there is need for more investment of resources – including financial ones - in young people’s programmes. Financial resources always present a big challenge to youth programmes as often times once the funding taps are closed, everything comes to a halt. But representatives of several development agencies that have been funding youth programmes offered a ray of hope, which policy makers and government officials from developing countries can take advantage of.

“The United States Agency for International Development, in collaboration with the Nigerian Government is committed to investing in the lives of the Nigerian people and worldwide through our youth programmes and interventions,” said USAID’s Dr Alh. Abdullahi Mawaida.

Representing the World Bank, Ms Elizabeth Lule said, “We stand ready to finance programmes that work for the benefit of young people and their families, communities and nations. Investing in young people’s health and development and looking at the evidence to improve policies and programmes is central to reducing global poverty and promoting economic growth…”

However, she stressed that there is need to focus more on programmes that have worked for scale-up. This indeed saves resources from being wasted on programmes that do not work.

By Kakaire Kirunda
Daily Monitor,Uganda

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