Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI) Program
NOVEMBER 12, 2014 BY MATCOPS
Given to the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone and in the Northern Province in particular, the potential of teenage pregnancy being on the increase is observed. Currently, with schools not in session, school girls are observed to be engaged in several practices (making them to move from one place to the other thereby increasing the potential of becoming pregnant at the same time contracting the Ebola virus more so that girls easily fall prey to men because their parents are poor and cannot take care of them) that will make them become pregnant. This ugly and unfortunate development is not unconnected with school going pupils not going to school in the country. Pregnancies among teenage pupils are in the increase and most families are facing so much pressure to address the situation.
According to Mrs. Patricia Bah, National Coordinator of the Teenage Pregnancy Secretariat with MATCOPS and Miss Sylvia Kobbie– Koinadugu DHS sister, as facilitators of the program, they observed that Ebola has increased the potential of the girl child becoming pregnant and also contacting the virus. With schools not in session, the social consequence of the virus include: high dropout rate, poverty, low uptake of HIV anti-retroviral and Family Planning, maternal morbidity/mortality and the benefit of Education. To help put the situation under control, the Matei Initiative Empowerment Program for Sustainable Development (MATCOPS), on Wednesday the 29th October to Thursday the 7th November 2014 took the initiative to embark on community sensitization in six Ebola free communities (Kondembaia, Nyawulia, Dondonya, Sandiya, Herekor and Konsulma) through training of girls in the Adolescent Girls Initiative (AGI) program. Participants included in-School Adolescents, Tack force, Community Wellness Advocacy Groups (CAGs), Soweis and District Health Management Team (DHMT) in (Bafodia, Musaia, Sinkunia, Yiffin, Kumala and Fankoya towns) in the Koinadugu district. The aim of the sensitization was to reduce teenage pregnancy and prevention of the spread of the Ebola virus through contact in the communities. This was done through awareness raising about the potential of increase in teenage pregnancy and contacting of the Ebola virus in the communities. Peer educators were engaged to increase awareness on the potential of girls becoming pregnant and at the same time preventing the transmission of Ebola virus through house to house campaign.Given to the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone and in the Northern Province in particular, the potential of teenage pregnancy being on the increase is observed. Currently, with schools not in session, school girls are observed to be engaged in several practices (making them to move from one place to the other thereby increasing the potential of becoming pregnant at the same time contracting the Ebola virus more so that girls easily fall prey to men because their parents are poor and cannot take care of them) that will make them become pregnant. This ugly and unfortunate development is not unconnected with school going pupils not going to school in the country. Pregnancies among teenage pupils are in the increase and most families are facing so much pressure to address the situation.
On what to do to prevent and lower the rate of teenage pregnancy and preventing the transmission of Ebola, MATCOPS AGI Project – Mr Simeon Kandeh and Field Officer – Mr. Paul Koroma indicated that there are many different ways to prevent a teenage girl from becoming pregnant, the only one that is absolutely effective is sexual abstinence. This method is the only one that guarantees no risk of getting pregnant and protects the teen from getting any STD’s. It was however, observed that many teens do not adhere to the advise even before the emergence of Ebola but with Ebola, teens were to completely avoid not touching any one for the risk contacting the virus that will lead to death.
The Executive Director, MATCOPS, Mrs. Mamusu Williams observed that the emergence of Ebola has created serious problems for social intervention organizations across the country. This includes interventions related to the reduction of teenage pregnancy and promotion of Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) and education of girls. The Organization has scaled up its intervention program by integrating the prevention and spread of Ebola virus into its operations targeting the rural areas of the Koinadugu district even as we fight with the Ebola epidemic. The Executive Director added observed that with support from UNFPA, MATCOPS has established 8 groups of 80 Adolescents girls in the AGI program network and 80 in School Adolescent (boys and girls) as peer educators in their various chiefdoms (Neini, Diang, Folosaba Dembelia, Dembelia Sinkunia and Wara Wara Bafodia). In her concluding remarks she indicated that MATCOPS and UNFPA are working hard to ensure that the lives of the adolescent especially the girl child are improved through the following:
- To equip adolescent girls with simple assets to address challenges created by the Ebola outbreak
- High community participation of community organs such as Adolescent Soweis, CAGs, Task Force and DHMT to continue intergenerational dialogue between the young and old to minimize the spread of Ebola and increase awareness on Teenage Pregnancy.
According to the Community Health Officer (CHO) of Sinkunia and Musaia – Mr. Antony Lansana Sesay and Sando E. Koroma, the initiative of MATCOPS is timely. The CHO, Sinkuania lamented about the increase in teenage pregnancy. He indicated, “I have received 19 teen mothers due to the Ebola outbreak”. He further indicated that the way out is to educate girls about the dangers of teenage pregnancy and the risk of contacting the Ebola virus through active participation.
In an interview with Paramount Chief Kondawulay Gbaru Mansaray III of Wara Wara Yagala chiefdom, he pledged his continue support to Government in the fight against Ebola by manning the Borders as Koinadugu has a lot of porous borders. He further recommended that all survivors should be isolated till 90 days to avoid the spread of the disease and obituary should not be announced to minimize the movement of people. He thanked MATCOPS for their support in minimizing the Ebola outbreak.
Paramount Chief Foday Jalloh III said his chiefdom (Neini) is the largest among all others with an estimated population of over 37000 covering 200 villages. He indicated that we need a joint venture in fighting Ebola as he has put a mechanizing in place in fining a person that harbor a stranger. In his conclusion he said he is looking forward to well-wishers to support his deprived chiefdom as its borders with Kono and Tonkolili district is temporally closed. He thanked MATCOPS for their past support in averting worse outcomes for adolescents and especially in this perilous time with the Ebola outbreak.
The meeting ended with a launching of the Ebola Advocates groups (Adolescent, Soweis, CAGs, Task Force and DHMT) with MATCOPS supports.