Sexual and Reproductive Health is an important part of development and young people as the most active part of our population should be involved in it.
This need saw stakeholders gather at Gomayz Hotel Plaza, Calabar on the 28th of December, 2021 to launch the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Right (SRHR) Policy for Cross River State. The policy which is the first of its kind in Nigeria addresses the problem young people face while accessing family planning services.
The policy was formulated by the Cross River State Ministry of Health, with the support of the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning (IYAFP) under its Sustaining Evidence Driven Advocacy (SEDA) project.
Stakeholders at the event expressed happiness that the process is facilitated by young people for as it is said, s(h)e who wears the shoes knows where it pinches.
This is while expressing optimism that the document will be used by all stakeholders to guide young people on their sexual and productive health and lifestyle.
The Director of Public Health, Cross River State, Dr Iwara Iwara, described the policy as a step in the right direction. That it shows that the youths themselves have taken their welfare in their hands. This is while assuring that the Department of Public Health and the State will continue to encourage them to work with the policy in the interest of young people in the State.
The Director General Cross River State Primary Health Development Agency, Dr Janet Ekpeyong, while speaking on behalf of the State Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu, thanked IYAFP for coming up with a policy focused on the youths. She was full of thanks to the team for representing young people well. This is while assuring that the state is committed to the policy and will do its best to implement it in the 18 local government areas.
She equally appreciated the support of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Muslim Community in the State for buying into the idea, as well as other CSOs.
The Acting Chairman Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Cross River State Chapter in his goodwill message recognized the importance of the group’s work and of cause the importance of young people. In a message titled “I came that they may have light and have it in full” (John 10: 10) the clergy noted that Christian Association of Nigeria supports the promotion of life and sustainance of family life. As such the church will work with the group to spread the message.
The Secretary of the Muslim Community in Cross River State, Mr Salisu Mohammed Abubakar, in his goodwill message appreciated the group and pledged the support of the Muslim community in spreading the message. This is while acknowledging that the community has a special challenge of ignorance, concerning family planning.
During the interactive session of the event, the DG. Cross River State Primary Health Development Agency, fielding questions on behalf of the Commissioner for Health assured that the policy is nondiscriminatory as its services covers those with disabilities, commercial sex workers and sexual minority groups.
On the implementation of the policy, she stated that a technical committee is already set up to implement the policy across the State. She equally assured that the project has been captured in the 2022 budget of the State, and will be sustained in the long run.
Participants at the event include government functionaries, development practitioners, youth representatives, religious leaders, civil society groups and NGOs, family health practitioners and the media.
-Nwagbo is based in Calabar