Dr Olusola Odunjirin, a public health physician, says government’s long-term investment in education and health will curtail poverty as well as increase productivity.
She stated this on Friday in her lecture presented at the maiden National Conference on Adolescent Health and Development held at the Subomi Balogun Conference Centre, University of Ibadan.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the maiden edition of the conference was organised by the society for Adolescent and Young People’s Health in Nigeria (SAYPHIN) in conjunction with other partners.
The conference has as theme: ‘Advancing Adolescent Health in Nigeria in the SDG Era.’
‘A significant percentage of Nigerian youths are illiterates and their educational needs must be catered for.
‘‘ To curtail poverty andl increase productivity, government investment in education and health is u,rgently needed,’’ she said.
The public health physician listed illiteracy, drug abuse, poverty, insecurity and poor healthcare system as some of the problems affecting the youth population in the country.
Odunjinrin, who recounted the efforts of the present administration in the country, said the nation would be able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with developed countries if it invested in its youths.
Prof. Oladapo Ladipo, the Chairman of the occasion, urged SAYPHIN to continue with its frantic efforts until government responded to the needs.
.‘‘This country has a youth population that is dynamic, intelligent, productive, restless and conductive, but their energy is yet to be fully utilised by the Nigerian government.‘
‘You must make your voice heard wherever you may be. It is your right to access qualitative healthcare.
‘‘Government should see you as human beings who must have access to qualitative healthcare wherever you may be,’’ he said.
He stressed the need to regulate population growth through reduction of fertility rate to a manageable level, adding that such efforts would prevent population explosion.
‘‘it is your responsibility at this age to take decisions to have only the number of children you can maintain.
‘‘Please, spread the message among your generation so that you won’t repeat the reproductive experience of your parents. There is no time for future reckless reproduction.’’
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said the Federal Government was making frantic efforts toward promoting adolescent health across all sectors of national life.
Adewole, who was represented by Prof. Victor Adetiloye, the Chief Medical Director, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTH), said no nation would treat issues of adolescent health with kid gloves.‘‘
‘ ‘ We will ensure that no adolescent is left behin,d in this plight of changing lives through our collective efforts,’’ he said.
He urged the organisers to ensure that the scope of the conference was all-embracing, capturing all that needed attention across the spectrum of the socio-economic divides of the nation.
Adewole also urged SAYPHIN to collaborate with various groups toward attaining their target objectives.
Earlier, Prof. Adesegun Fatusi, SAYPHIN President, said that the conference would look at all challenges facing young people among which are mental health, nutrition, gender-based violence and trauma.
‘‘This conference is about health and development. We are going to look at all the issues holistically and make recommendations toward shaping the future of the young and adolescent.
‘ ‘ We hope that at the end of the conference, participants will be able to go home with practical lessons that would address the various challenges affecting young people and shape their future,’’ he said.
Dr Mathew Kayode, representative of young people and Ms Justinah Ajayi, who represented the physically challenged, charged youths to be focused always. (NAN)