ARFH President, Prof. Ladipo, Co-founder, Mrs Grace Delano among others receive award at 1st National Conference on Adolescent Health and Development in Nigeria
ARFH President, Prof. O.A Ladipo, and Co-founder, Mrs Grace Delano alongside other prominent Nigerians and organizations were honoured with a fellowship award for their immense contributions to the promotion of adolescent health in Nigeria.
The awards were announced and presented during the opening ceremony of the maiden National Conference on Adolescent Health and Development, themed ‘Leaving No Young Person Behind: Advancing Adolescent Health in Nigeria in the SDG Era,’ which was held at the Otunba Subomi Balogun Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, Oyo state from April 10-13, 2019. The conference was organised by the Society for Adolescent and Young People’s Health in Nigeria (SAYPHIN) and sponsored by several other partners to celebrate the immense work done on adolescent health in Nigeria and catalize the conversation to innovate change.
The Nigerian Government is making frantic efforts at promoting adolescent health and prioritizing the growth of adolescents in the new dispensation.
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, said this at the opening ceremony of the 1st National Conference on Adolescent Health and Development in Nigeria, organised by the Society for Adolescent and Young People’s Health in Nigeria (SAYPHIN).
Professor Adewole, who was represented by Professor Victor Adetiloye, the Chief Medical Director of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTH), Ile-Ife, Osun State, remarked that the theme of the conference was well conceived and the event, a right step towards securing the future of the nation.
The Minister said, “No nation would treat issues of adolescent health with kid gloves. We will ensure that no adolescent is left behind in this plight of changing lives through our collective efforts.”
He urged SAYPHIN to ensure that the scope of the conference was all-embracing, capturing all that needed attention across the spectrum of the socio-economic divides of the nation and to also collaborate with various groups toward attaining their target objectives.
The President of SAYPHIN, Professor Adesegun Fatusi, said that the conference was focused on the development and health challenges facing adolescents and young people, some of which he identified as mental health, nutrition, gender-based violence and trauma, among others.
“This conference is about health and development. We are going to look at all the issues holistically and make recommendations towards shaping the future of the young and adolescents.
“We hope that by the end of the conference, participants will be able to go home with practical lessons that would address the various challenges affecting young people and shape their future,’’ Fatusi said.
Professor Fatusi noted that the conference was not designed to be a one-time affair but a biennial event.
He added that this year’s conference marks the public national unveiling of SAYPHIN.
The Chairman of the ocassion and Chairman, Board of Trustees, SAYPHIN, Professor Oladapo Ladipo, asserted that qualitative healthcare was the right of the youth and government must provide such because the future belongs to the young ones.
“There will be many more of this conference until government responds to the needs of adolescents. This country has youth population that is dynamic, intelligent, productive, restless and conductive, but their energy is yet to be fully utilized by the Nigerian government,” Professor Ladipo said.
He stressed that the fertility rate in the country must reduce to prevent population explosion and address some of the challenges being faced.
He said that the message of having only the number of children one can take care of must be spread in the country by the youth.
The Chairman declared, “It is your responsibility at this age to take decisions to have only the number of children you can maintain. Please, spread the message among your generation so that you won’t repeat the reproductive experience of your parents. There is no time for future reckless reproduction.’’
In his remarks, Prof. Ladipo, who was the Chairman of the occassion and Chairman, Board of Trustees, SAYPHIN, described the recipients of the awards as those who have passionately contributed to the advancement of adolescent health in the country while recounting the various contributions of the recipients over the years, adding they were happy that the efforts had begun to yield good fruits.
In the keynote address delivered by Dr. Olusola Odujinrin, a public health physician, she attributed the health and development problems faced by adolescents to the high level of illiteracy prevalent in the country.
“Their huge hidden treasure and human potential are waiting to be unearthed, developed, nurtured and tapped for the transformation of Nigeria into a country that could stand shoulder to shoulder with countries in the high income bracket,” she said.
Problems Affecting the Youths
Dr. Odujinrin mentioned illiteracy, drug abuse, poverty, insecurity and poor healthcare system as some of the problems affecting the youth population in the country.
She however submitted that: “Basic investment in maternal, adolescent/youth and child health programmes will help to sustain the rapid decline in our stuttering mortality and fertility statistics and usher in demographic dividends.”
Goodwill messages were delivered at the opening ceremony. In her goodwill message, Prof. Susan Sawyer, the President of the International Association for Adolescent Health, (IAAH), congratulated SAYPHIN on the ocassion of the conference and noted that adolescents need love, quality education and sustainable environment, among other factors, to thrive in life.
Agents of Change
The Country Director of the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA Dr. Eugene Kongnyuy, stated that when children and adolescents are empowered and given the right opportunities, they become agents of change.
He encouraged young people to take on leadership roles, be in the driver’s seat and decide what needs to be done so that the future they desire can happen.
A youth representative, Dr. Matthew Kayode, charged the young people present to go back and become ambassadors of change.
In the same vein, Ms. Justina Ajayi, a young person living with disability, pointed out that the society is structured in such a way that the physically challenged are limited and find it difficult to achieve much.
She said, “Don’t tell them what they can’t do, but what they can do. If you can’t support them, then keep quiet.”
Fellowship Awards were given to some of the dignitaries present. The recipients were: Prof. Oladapo Ladipo, Dr. Olusola Odujinrin, Hajia Mairo Bello, Dr. Babatunde Aransi and Dr. Phillippa Momah.
Honorary Fellowship Awards were given to Mrs. Grace Delana and Professor Isaac Adewole, the Honorable Minister of Health.
culled from VON