Nigerian youths have called on National and State governments to strengthen the economy and improve the health sector.
The Nigerian youths spoke to me at a two-day visit by officials of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) to communities and adolescent health programme centres in Lagos.
Ayomide Oke from Tolu Community, in Ajegunle, Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area (LGA), Lagos State, said the harsh economy has made many parents depressed, as they cannot adequately provide for their children.
“Some children are living with stomach ulcer, as they don’t eat well. Government needs to revive the economy, so that our parents’ businesses can thrive, in turn, they will be able to take care of us.
“Also, a lot of youths are battling with mental health issues. They don’t know who to talk to. Some of us may need knowledge on reproductive health, but we don’t even know who we can trust or share these issues with. There should be a safe place in school where youths can share their problems. Our parents should also create time for us, as well,” Oke appealed.
UNICEF, Lagos State Agency for the Control of AIDS (LSACA) and the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), embarked on the two-day medical outreach to Tolu Community in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government, Hello Lagos Adolescent and Youth Friendly Centre at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Iwaya Primary Health Centre Yaba, Lagos Mainland LGA and Atan Street Empire Agege Motor Road.
A student of Julie Comprehensive College, Adamu Abraham, applauded UNICEF for the outreach programme, adding that “The medical outreach is a good initiative as a lot of us now know our HIV status.
“In Tolu Community, girls between the ages of 13 to 15 years old are already sexually active, and some have given birth. They might not be aware of their status. So, coming here is a good development. I have done my test and it came out negative. I was nervous when taking the test but I felt happy to know the result now.”
A nursing mother, Mrs Audu said she is glad that the medical outreach is happening in her vicinity. “With the cost of transportation, I struggle to take my child for her immunisation. Bringing the vaccines to my doorstep really made my day.”
A social media influencer, Dr. Egemba Chinonso, underlined the value of giving teenagers a forum to share their opinions on health-related issues, adding that, “This is a very good initiative by UNICEF to educate young people on topical health issues that would be of benefit to them.”
Health specialist at UNICEF Nigeria, Dr. Victoria Isiramen, highlighted the importance of consistently involving young individuals in discussions concerning pertinent health matters that directly impact them.
Beyond sexual reproductive health, young people are grappling with a range of additional concerns that require attention, Isiramen said, adding that, “Mental health, peer pressure, poor parental supports, financial pressure for girls, stressful environment among others also affect young people.”