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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Tamale: Zagyuri Community Records Only One Teenage Pregnancy in Four Years

Members of the various young people groups under Guso with stakeholders.

Information available to ZAMI Reports indicates that the Zagyuri community in the Sagnarigu Municipality of the Northern region recorded only one teenage pregnancy between 2016, and 2020. Though the year is yet to draw to a close, the traditional council says it has enough strategies to maintain the feet it has chalked.

An elated member of the traditional council Saha-Na Alhassan Sulemana said the one teenage pregnancy recorded could have been prevented but for the mental state of the victim.

“She is 16 years and suffers a mental illness. We believe that accounted for her engaging in unprotected sex”.

Zagyuri Teenage Pregnancy Record. 

Zagyuri, a community of about one thousand residents with about five hundred households is located off the Tamale-Bolgatanga highway, few metres away from the Tamale Airport, a location that places the community about 15mns drive from the central business district of the Northern regional capital.

The community according to Alhassan Sulemana before 2016, recorded at least five teenage pregnancies each year but the narrative has changed.

 “We allowed our wards to form peer groups where some peer educators from Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana constantly engaged them”.

Though the Parenthood Association of Ghana met fierce resistance in 2016, when it first engaged the traditional council, the team persisted.

“We resisted their presence in the community. We had the notion that they were in to negatively influence our children”.

With impactful evidence visibly seen as more girls in the community were enrolled in schools, the traditional council is optimistic that lessons learnt by both the young and parents will be transferred to generations to maintain the sanity currently being enjoyed in the community.

“Personally I do not have the luxury of time to educate my children on sexual reproductive health and aside that, the community had no knowledge on this until PPAG begun engaging parents and the palace wish the engagement lasted longer”.

Menstruation Mistaken for a Medical Condition. 

At age 15, and in junior high school 2, Abdul-Razak Shafahatu, a native of Tamale, had no idea what adolescent changes in girls were. No mention had been made of menstrual circle and other physical signs to look out for in girls at puberty ages. And seeing blood stains in her underwear was enough to make her conclude she had a medical condition that needed urgent attention.

“I was frustrated and afraid on the first day I had my menses, I thought something was wrong with my body”, a misery that pushed her to confide in her bosom friend whom she assumed was better placed to lend a hand

“My friend introduced me to the Sisters Club under Guso that was when I realized what I experienced was my menses and it occurs every month”.

While Shafahatu battled adolescent changes, Barkisu and her peers who served as head porters in the Tamale central and Aboabo markets faced constant sexual harassment from men which led to some of them getting pregnant at teen ages. They had no knowledge of free reproductive healthcare service at health centres until early 2016, when they took part in a stakeholders meeting organized by the PPAG in the Tamale central market.

“We didn’t believe there were free reproductive health services even when we were told by PPAG until we visited the centre”.

Get Up; Speak Up Project.

The Get Up; Speak Out (GUSO) project, a five years adolescent programme by the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana is a continuation of an initial project called Access,  Services, and Knowledge (ASK) for young people which started in 2016, with the mission of giving young people the voice to speak out on issues related to their reproductive rights.

At least some 1,000 young people categorized as out of school, in-school, young people who have never been in school, head porters, and young people who are vulnerable in terms of adolescent issues in six communities in the Northern and Upper East regions have joined the GUSO programme .

  1. “We had targeted to reach young people with education, information, and services. There have been some rise in terms of the numbers of young people who have been reached with information, education, and services on their reproductive health and rights”, the Project Officer Madam Mathilda Ayamga told ZAMI Reports.

Classified as one of the most vulnerable group, young people must have responsible thought which includes responsible living and being aware of their rights. The GUSO project did not escape the impact of the global pandemic.

“It wasn’t easy for us to reach more young people in 2020, but because we had already achieved more in the previous years, we didn’t lag behind especially with the support of our partners”, Madam Mathilda Ayamga added.

Groups like Sisters, an all-female club, Youth Action Movement (YAM), Young and Wise, Access, Services, and Knowledge (ASK), and Reproductive Health Education and Services for Young (RHESY) through mentorship sessions, coaching, and community engagement witnessed this feet by the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana.

At a stakeholders meeting in Tamale to analyze the successes, challenges, and identify the way forward as the project folds up, Abena Adubea Amoah, the Executive Director of PPAG, says the demography of Northern region was key in the choice of the region for the implementation of the Get up Speak Out project.

“The northern part of Ghana holds a unique demography as far as young people are concerned and also the rate of the issues that have to do with young people on teenage pregnancy, and issues on stigma around issues of reproductive health”.

UNICEF’s Report.

The Northern Region has the lowest level of school attendance of children of primary school age at just 59.4 per cent of children. It also has the lowest female literacy rate in the country at 44.3 per cent of young women aged 15–24 years (national average 61.4 per cent).

While some girls access family planning services, there are many teenage pregnancies arising from peer-to-peer relationships or abuse such as defilement by school teachers. The baseline study revealed that girls sometimes die from complications in childbirth because their bodies are not developed enough to cope with the birthing process.

-End-

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