The Ministry of Public Health on Wednesday launched its Adolescent health and wellness day and Adolescent Antenatal Support group at the Bartica Health Centre in Region seven (Cuyuni/Mazaruni).
The Adolescent health and wellness day is a new initiative which seeks to have one day set aside per week for the delivery of health care to teenagers across the nation, who are both in and out of school. This programme will be rolled out in all 10 administrative regions of Guyana by December 12, 2016. The initiative was adopted from the best practices in community improvement of Maternal Health in Japan.
First launched in 2015 in seven (7) health centres in Region 4 as a pilot, the Adolescent Antenatal Support group focuses on reducing repeat pregnancies among adolescents along with preparing the already pregnant parents for safe delivery and caring for the new born. The programme is set to be launched in atleast two health centres in each region by the end of 2016.
Regional Health Officer of Region 7, Dr. Edward Sagala and Senior Medex, Sharon Hope officially launched the two new Public Health services in the region.
Also present at the launch was National Adolescent Health Coordinator, Dr. Oneka Scott, who in her feature address stated that she was proud of the region, since they expressed uncontained enthusiasm to provide forums to support youths.
“While looking at health across the life cycle, we must not exclude our young people, as they are the largest cohort of the population and face a myriad of health issues known or unknown to us,” she said.
Addressing several expecting teenage mothers and their partners, Dr. Scott thanked the fathers for coming out and stressed that male partner involvement is integral in reducing unwanted pregnancies and second repeat teen pregnancies.
“We can’t expect family planning to be bought well if we don’t also sell it to the males. Have you fathers been taught what to expect in your pregnancy, have you been taught how to take care of your neo nate? Do you have burning questions on your partner’s state? Well this is the forum that those questions will have some light shed on them,” she explained.
The support group on Wednesday was facilitated by Dr.Scott and Nurse Showina Davis of the Grove health center. Support group sessions will be held twice monthly and will cover a variety of issues with the main goals of promoting safe motherhood, decreasing maternal and neonatal mortality and reducing repeat pregnancies. It is expected that 11-16 mothers and their partners will be a part of the support group in that region.
An important aspect of this initiative is the collaboration between the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Education on school re-integration for the teenage mothers as well as the distribution of basic supplies for the babies.
Meanwhile, addressing students of the three miles and Bartica secondary schools along with their teachers, Dr Scott explained that the Adolescent health and wellness day will see youths being screened for the early detection of chronic diseases, among other services. Special emphasis would be placed on nutrition and healthy eating and the reduction of child and adolescents’ obesity as well.
Doctors and nurses will provide information on burning issues that plague the adolescent population individually and as a group when requested. The first session was conducted on Wednesday when the youths received informative lectures.