Day Of the African Child: AHF Nigeria Harps on age appropriate Sexuality Education for young people

…Says new HIV infections and teenage pregnancies rising

From Scholastica Hir Makurdi

A Non Governmental Organization (NGO), AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Nigeria, has advocated for an age appropriate Comprehensive Sexuality Education for young people across the country.

The Organization while expressing worry over increasing rates of new HIV infections and teenage pregnancies said there was urgent need to equip young people with tools, services, and information to enable them take better decisions.

To commemorate the International Day of the African Child (IDAC), 2024, the Advocacy and Marketing Manager, AHF Nigeria, Steve Aborisade, said the Africa Bureau of AHF will host a series of events under the theme “Fostering Health and Education Through Comprehensive Sexuality Education” as part of its ongoing “#ProtectTheChild” campaign.

Aborisade, in a statement made available to newsmen in Makurdi, on Monday said the theme aligns with the global 2024 IDAC theme, “Education for All, and the Time is Now,” to underscore the crucial role that access to education, including Comprehensive Sexuality Education, plays in enhancing health outcomes for young people.

He said “The emphasis on age-appropriate Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) stems from the increasing rates of new HIV infections and teenage pregnancies, highlighting the urgent need to equip young people with proven tools, services, and information.”

According to him, research has demonstrated that age-appropriate CSE can significantly reduce the incidence of HIV, STIs, gender-based violence, and unplanned pregnancies among adolescents and young people.

He noted that “The International Day of the African Child observed annually on June 16th, honors those who participated in the 1976 Soweto uprising and has since become a symbol of raising awareness about the rights of African children.

“Since 2022, AHF Africa has strategically leveraged this day to highlight the importance of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) for the health and well-being of young people, in furtherance of their right to health and education.

“AHF Africa will host various live and virtual activities across its country programs to engage key stakeholders, community leaders, parents, teachers, and young people on the importance of investing in CSE and galvanize community support for its implementation in schools and communities.

“This year, AHF Nigeria will be hosting a consultative meeting, in the form of a Focus Group Discussion (FGD), with students and other young people, and that will have officials of government agencies and parastatals in attendance, to give young people an opportunity to contribute their ideas about how CSE can foster health and education towards achieving life goals.

Explaining further, AHF Nigeria Country Program Director, Dr. Echey Ijezie, said “AHF’s commitment to fostering CSE stems from the outcome of extensive global research, which highlights its many benefits – including reduction in early sexual engagement, fostering positive attitudes towards sexual and reproductive health issues, reducing the tendency to engage in risky behaviors, strengthening of self-awareness, and equipping young individuals with knowledge to combat HIV, STIs, and unplanned pregnancies, while challenging harmful gender norms.”

Dr Ijezie also noted that the #ProtectTheChild campaign was aimed at addressing the pushback and misinformation surrounding CSE which has continued to hinder effective implementation while the planned event is an avenue to further foster meaningful dialogue and build support for age-appropriate CSE.

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