By Alusine Sesay & Victoria Saffa
Health For All Coalition (HFAC) and the Teenage Pregnancy Secretariat last Friday, 21 March, signed a partnership agreement with the aim to collaborate in the fight against the prevalence of teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone.
Programme Manager of HFAC ,Alhassan Bakarr said he was elated about partnering with the secretariat because the move signifies their response to calls made by President Ernest Bai Koroma with regards the fight against teenage pregnancy, noting that they are committed to reducing maternal mortality through the reduction of teenage pregnancy.
“Forty percent of the recorded maternal deaths are teenagers. Girls get pregnant at early ages between 12 to 13 years and eventually misuse their future,” he said, adding “We are committed towards the reduction of maternal mortality through the reduction of teenage pregnancy.”
On her part, Programme Manager of the Teenage Pregnancy Secretariat , Ms. Patricia Bah said she was thrilled to forge an official relationship with HFAC in addressing teenage pregnancy, noting that CSOs should play a pivotal role in addressing the issue of teenage pregnancy through awareness-raising and the adoption of bye-laws.
She commended the Government of Sierra Leone for the adoption of a National Strategy on the Reduction of Teenage Pregnancy and the allocation of resources to the fight against teenage pregnancy, but suggested that more needed to be done.
She said men should be discouraged to stop chasing teenage girls, but encouraged to go after adult women, many of whom she said are sexually starved and need men to keep them awake.
According to the agreement, the two entities would collaborate in the area of advocacy on Teenage Pregnancy Reduction Strategy; community mobilization, with the aim to reducing teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone; monitoring; support each other through coordinated public advocacy efforts; organise joint training programmes for CSOs and teenage pregnancy officials and key stakeholders in the health sector; ensure that recommendations from monitoring visits are implemented; and that both institutions coordinate periodically in a bid to have smooth planning, preparation and implementation of joint interventions.