February 22, 2021
By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Marie Stopes Sierra Leone, on Wednesday, February 17, launched it Valentine ‘Posin to Posin’ promotion, with the aim to ending teenage pregnancy among school going girls across the country.
Marie Stopes Sierra Leone (MSSL) is part of a Global Partnership of Marie Stopes International operating in 37 countries, providing personalised contraception and post-abortion Care services to women and girls.
Their main mission is to help people to be able to have children by choice and not by chance, regardless of their status in society.
The free service promotion, which was launched at their Wilkinson Road Office in Freetown, encourages and targets more of school going girls and aims at getting rid of pregnancy, among adolescents across the country.
Speaking at the event, Marie Stopes Sierra Leone Country Director, Dr. Ufuoma Festus Omo-Obi, said the Government development agenda, notes the rise in teenage pregnancy and it calamitous implication for maternal mortality and the development outcomes of the country .
He said about 15%% of girls have sexual intercourse before 15 years and adolescent pregnancies are among the top 10 countries in the world, stating that about 28% of adolescent girls age 15-19 years are already mothers or pregnant.
He said about 44% of the girls are married before 18 years, and about 44% of pregnancies of girls below 20 are lost after 7 months of gestation or babies die within seven days of life, stating that teenage pregnancy accounts tor 40% of maternal deaths across the country.
He said the former Minister of Health and Sanitation Alpha Tejan Wurie, once said the challenges associated with sexual reproductive health and teenage pregnancy will continue to be addressed through government health programmes and private sector partnership initiatives.
He said Valentine season is one of the most challenging periods for adolescents as it positions them (especially the ignorant), to fall victim to sexual exploitations.
“In support of the government’s development priorities, we are pleased to announce the launch of a month-long free Family Planning Promotion code named “Valentine Posin-to-Posin 2021 Promo as both a precautionary as well as a response mechanism to help women and girls prevent unintended pregnancy,” he said.
He said the promo will reach women and girls with quality, personalized and confidential services of choice free of user fees between Wednesday 17h February to Wednesday 17th March, 2020, at their outreaches and Public Sector Channels across the country.
He said the valentine Posin-to-Posin Promo is funded and supported by Ministry of Health and Sanitation and it partners.
He said the Executive Director of UNFPA, Dr. Natalia Kanem; in 2020 once said adolescent girls traversed the path from childhood to womanhood, their sexual and reproductive health and rights become even more consequential and with a newfound ability and desire to make decisions about their bodies, their lives, and their world.
He said the free available services during the valentine Posin-to-Posin Promotion” period are Long Acting & Reversible Contraceptives (LARCS) Such as lUD (Coil), Implant (Captain Band), Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) Counselling, free screening and STI treatments.
He said the valentine Posin-to-Posin Promotion” is an exceptional unique opportunity for women, girls and couples to have the power to choose a contraceptive method of choice.
He said last year,2020, they provided 304,482 people with contraceptive services (excluding 2.5m condoms distributed) with 491,663 Couple Years of protection (CYPs) and their services averted 213,137 unintended pregnancies; 102,375 unsafe abortions and 1,607 maternal deaths was averted.
Speaking on behalf of the Police, Inspector Melvina Koroma said Sexual Reproductive Healthcare Service is a call for authorities concerned in the homes, communities and the country at large, noting that sexual and reproductive health care is everybody’s business as violence increasingly occurs throughout the globe.
She said it is the institutional mandate of the police to protect life and property, stating that they partner with Marie Stopes because they provide Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in a way to protect life.
She said due to the daily disturbing increase rate of sexual and gender based violence in the country, President Julius Maada Bio had made a Presidential Proclamation on Rape and other Sexual violence that is negatively affecting valued women and girls.
“Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, prevention is cheaper, easier and better than cure which is expensive and difficult,” she said.
She said the promotion was timely to bring awareness women and girls prevention, unwanted pregnancies, some Sexual Transmited Diseases, transmission and reduction of teenage pregnancy and maternal health during such period.
She discussed that the Sierra Leone Police Force and Marie Stopes are working on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) into assisting women and girls to access family planning and sexual reproductive healthcare services.
She said despite the concerted effort of government with its development partners, in fighting against the ugly and alarming issue, yet it increases and promised that they will continue to work with Marie Stopes in the fight.
Also speaking, National Coordinator at the Secretariat for the Reduction of Teenage Pregnancy, Patricia Bah ,said it will be a plus to her should Marie Stopes succeeds in their work , stating that Sierra Leone is still among countries with the highest rate of teenage pregnancy and child marriage.
She said whenever issues about human capital development is being discussed the first point of it is human development, especially the mindset of the human beings, stating that one of the major causes of teenage pregnancy is child marriage.
She commended Marie Stopes for being established all over the country, stating that 58.3% of adolescents age 15 to 19 years, are now using family planning.
In her keynote address, Ann Konneh, the Gender Focal and Lead Person on Comprehensive Sexuality at the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, said violence and other forms of vulnerability frequently overlap and intersect in ways that can exacerbate women’s dependency and
isolation through syndetic or synergistic suffering.
He said women in Africa, to a large extent, are required to be subordinates to men and even in the area of sexuality the African woman is secondary and passive participants.
She said a feminist has said that the African woman is “trapped in the claws of the taboos and the restrictions that only help to propel male chauvinism.”
She the oppression and suppression of women is a worldwide phenomenon and women have to grapple with problems of child bearing, childrearing and caring for the husband, in-laws and relatives.
She said without sexual and reproductive health education including the use of Contraceptive and the practice of Family Planning, women and girls will continue to be at risk as well as the free Quality School Education that is advancing gender equality through and in education.