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Posted by / 07-Dec-2019 03:36

Beyond investments in quality education which improves young people's capacity and chances of gainful employment, Nigeria must make significant investments in young people's health, especially sexual and reproductive health (SRH).

A lack of investment in effective SRH means that young people are denied accurate information and are disempowered, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation, an inability to complete their education as a result of unwanted pregnancies, and a consequent limitation in their future.

New data released by the Guttmacher Institute shows that 36 million young women aged 15-19 in developing countries are sexually active, and that they desire to avoid pregnancy, but a majority of them do not use modern contraceptives.

From the report, approximately half of the 9.6 million pregnancies among this group each year are unintended, and about half of these unintended pregnancies result in abortion - most of which are unsafe.

Yet, according to the recently launched Nigeria Nutrition and Health Survey 2018, only 4.8% of adolescents aged 15-19 are using modern contraceptives.

These statistics belie the critical need for young people to be accurately taught about sexual and reproductive health and given access to contraception.

Goodness** (name changed to maintain anonymity) is a young woman in south-eastern Nigeria living with a hearing disability.

If she had access to contraception and accurate information about her sexual and reproductive health, her story may have turned out differently.

This number is higher for girls living in rural areas, where 55% have ever had sex and 39.9% are sexually active.

Jigawa State had the highest percentage of girls between ages 15-19 who had ever had sex, at 78.4%. The data is overwhelming that young people are engaging in sex.

Education as a Vaccine (EVA), a non-governmental organisation, uses multiple channels to reach young people with SRH information.

Three mobile applications called Link Up, Frisky and DIVA help connect users to youth-friendly health centres using their location.

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