Adolescent health strategy to ensure wellness – Dr Cummings

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Several stakeholders were in attendance at the Cara Lodge for the National Consultation for the formulation of Guyana’s Adolescent Health Strategy, yesterday. (Photo by Adrian Narine)

– to unlock potential of nation’s adolescents

THE Ministry of Public Health, in collaboration with other stakeholders, is hosting a National Consultation for the formulation of Guyana’s Adolescent Health Strategy for the age group, which serves as a critical link between childhood and adulthood.
The workshop kicked off on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at the Cara Lodge and will continue until March 16.
It is a partnership among the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO); United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Some of the noted individuals in attendance were: PAHO/WHO Representative for Guyana, Dr William Adu-Krow; Deputy Representative of UNICEF Guyana and Suriname, Paolo Marchi and Liaison Officer of UNFPA, Adler Bynoe.

the opening remarks, Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr Karen Cummings, said that Guyana is poised to establish the National Adolescent Health Strategy in keeping with the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children and Adolescents’ Health, an initiative launched by former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in 2016.
The strategy is aimed at ensuring that every woman, child and adolescent in every setting realise their rights to physical and mental health and well-being; has social and economic opportunities and are able to participate fully in shaping prosperous and sustainable societies by 2030.

Cummings says that this “bold new road map” is one aimed at preventing avoidable maternal, newborn and child deaths, while improving the overall well-being of these groups who deserve to be able to unlock their vast potential.
With the support of non-government and faith-based organisations, families, schools and other stakeholders of the various sectors, the minister said that the creation of a sound national strategy would be a possibility.
The Adolescent Department of the Ministry of Public Health, in accordance with the country’s Health Vision 2020, has already begun taking steps to address adolescent health locally, with the establishment of adolescent and youth-friendly healthcare services across the country.

However, Minister Cummings says there is still much more to be done to meet the needs of health services provision in the areas of development, disease prevention, behavioural health and overall awareness.

“We must ensure that our strategy places great emphasis on the developmental stage of adolescents before the onset of obvious morbidity or during the early stages of experimentation in such areas as diet and exercise, substance use including tobacco and alcohol, driving, and sexual behaviour,” she said.
Many of the health issues faced by adolescents are preventable, Cummings added, indicating that the national strategy must include specialty care such as mental, oral, sexual and reproductive health, as well as substance abuse treatment and prevention services.

Further addressing the gathering, she acknowledged that it is necessary for adolescents, during the explorative period, to be guided to healthy lifestyles and behaviours such as abstinence from smoking, risky sexual behaviours and risky road habits.
As a number of students who were invited to the function from various institutions listened and took notes, the minister added that the aforementioned actions could have a great impact on one’s health and morbidity throughout life.
“Utilising this approach to improve young people’s social abilities will help them to choose whether to accept or reject certain courses of behaviour, for example, rejecting a lift home by a drunken boyfriend. It is also effective in enabling young people to make independent choices about individual health-related behaviours,” she stated.
Subsequently, Cummings urged the participants of the national consultation to find meaningful ways to formulate a strategy which encompasses the many and necessary components of Guyana’s adolescent health.

“Let your discussions lead you to places that will result in life-saving ideas for our adolescents. [This form of protection] means that we are safeguarding the health and longevity of our nation,” she said.