First Lady, Sandra Granger encouraged teenage boys and girls and teenage parents to seek out the sexual health, reproductive and other services offered at the Agricola Health Centre Community Parenting Support Group, at the launch of the clinic at the Agricola Health Centre, East Bank Demerara.
The First Lady was invited to the launch because of her advocacy for education and support services for youth, especially women and girls. At the opening ceremony, she said, “I do not think we can overemphasise how important maternal child health is, especially for our teen mothers and the support that we give them.”
The First Lady spoke about the importance of health and nutrition during pregnancy and encouraged the teenagers to capitalise on the opportunity to continue their education, both during and after their pregnancies as an educated mother will better be able to meet her child’s needs.
“The second thing that I discovered, a few days ago, was the importance of early childhood development and the provision of a nurturing environment for better adults. These are scientific studies – the British Medical Association launched a series, The Lancet Series … [which] have proven that if your baby has a nurturing environment from birth to three years, as an adult, that child will be 25 times more active mentally and more productive than a child who is subject to want, who is not properly fed, who is abused and beaten,” the First Lady said.
She then urged the teenagers, who have access to the Centre, to capitalise on the opportunity to seek sound medical advice, care and counselling about sex and sexuality, which will inform them about a wide range of topics in this regard, and preclude them from engaging in risky sexual behaviours.
Dr Travis Freeman, resident doctor at the Sophia Health Centre Teenage Pregnancy Support Group, echoed this view. He said that the initiative, which was first launched several years ago to address the high incidences of teenage pregnancy, was revised and relaunched nationally in October 2017 at the Sophia Health Centre.
The programme, which is spearheaded by the Ministry of Public Health, in collaboration with the Ministries of Social Protection and Education, now aims to provide more comprehensive care aimed at ensuring that young persons have access to health services. He too urged teenagers to access the services to become “educated, to learn more about your body, to learn more about your sexuality that is what this initiative is about… we want to empower our young people, we want to empower our young ladies.”
The Centre is managed by two doctors, five nurses and a clinic attendant and serves approximately 11,000 persons within the borders of Meadwobank and Providence, East Bank Demerara.