The Institute of Health Research (IHR) of University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) and Adaklu District Health Directorate held a project dissemination workshop for health service managers in the Adaklu district of the Volta region on November 9.
The project, themed “Strengthening the capacity of Health Management Teams to use District Health Information Management System (DHIMS) data in engaging stakeholders for effective decision-making in addressing teenage pregnancy in the Volta region of Ghana”, received funding support from International Development Research Center (IDRC), Canada. Professor Margaret Gyapong is the Principal Investigator (PI) with Professor Evelyn Ansah, Dr. Desmond Klu, Mr. Percival Agordoh and Mr. Charles Azagba as Co-Investigators (CI).
The project was targeted at 30 selected communities in Adaklu district to, among other things, explore knowledge, beliefs, behaviour and outcomes of sexual and reproductive health among adolescents aged between 10 and 19 years and their caregivers. It was also to identify best practices and/or bottlenecks to working well together with community stakeholders in promoting adolescent target health interventions and associated challenges.
Mr. Charles Azagba, who is also the District Director of Health Services (DDHS), in his presentation at the dissemination workshop, noted that teenage pregnancy still remained a major concern in the district and the Volta region even though many interventions had been introduced:
Teenage pregnancy is still high here although the rate has dropped from 23.3 per cent in 2015 to 12.2 per cent in 2019 due to interventions from formation of adolescent clubs and introduction of the Girls Iron-Folate Supplementation (GIFTS) programme among others.
It was for this reason that the project was launched to understand the relationship between caregivers, health workers and the adolescents.
The team found that a majority of adolescents do not communicate with their parents on sexual matters and nine out of ten had never visited health centres for Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) information and services. Most adolescents indicated that they would have preferred to receive information on reproductive and sexual health from their mothers. Another finding was that although caregivers did not approve of their children being in sexual relationships, majority of them never discussed sex related issues with their children and had no idea about their children’s current relationship status.
With regards to engagement of the caregivers and health workers, the team also noted that although they had support in some communities, some opinion leaders made their work difficult, which sometimes bred mistrust between them and the community as a whole. They also said house chores had become a hindrance to getting the female-child to attend adolescent club meetings.
The organisers of the workshop agreed that community members need to be consulted on what optimum engagement means to them; additionally, mothers need to be equipped to communicate better with adolescents on reproductive and sexual health issues; and they also suggested that a stronger bond be built among the stakeholders to totally end the menace of teen pregnancy in the district.