Buchanan, Grand Bassa County – The Planned Parenthood Association of Liberia (PPAL) on May 17 launched a community engagement for youth family planning Program in the port city of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
The colorful program which brought together students, youth groups and community members was held at the newly constructed Buchanan Hotel.
The project is sponsor by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and targets youth between ages 11 to 24 years.
Speaking at the launching, the Chief Executive Officer of PPAL, Madam Martha Kiawu Cojolo said the program seeks to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for the population.
She said the objective will be achieved through programs development and implementations, training and technical assistance in SRHR information including family planning services and youth friendly service provision amongst others.
The PPAL CEO then cautioned participants about the high rate of teenage pregnancy and infection in Grand Bassa County, while calling on parents to educate their children about the positive and negative aspects of sex.
According to Madam Cojolo educating girls and boys about sex will help reduce the risks of infection and teenage pregnancy.
The launching of the community engagement for youth family planning in Grand Bassa County attracted smiles from many young girls and boys that have discovered the importance of the service, although many of them are still rejecting it.
Many teenagers claim they stay away from family planning due to misconceptions that it may gave users infections and make female users overweight than their normal body structure or size.
Giving an overview, the program manager of PPAL, Mrs. Ernree Bee-Neeplo said it will increase the social acceptability of young people and their approval of using family planning services in Grand Bassa County.
The program will increase youth knowledge and understanding of sexual reproductive health Issues, family planning services and methods to help improve the process, Bee-Neeplo said.
“We are going to work with the five electoral districts of Grand Bassa County and train 100 selected community Health volunteers,” she told participants, adding that a monthly health forum using participatory learning methods will be conducted.
These forums will also involve action cycles in focal districts in order to address barriers to voluntary family planning services for young people as defined by community dwellers, she added.
Mrs. Bee-Neeplo lamented the increasing rate of teenage pregnancy in Grand Bassa County which she said is caused by having unprotected sex.
She also said PPAL will conduct community meetings, forged partnership with local community youth groups and the facilitation of local youth listeners’ program amongst others.
At the program, participants lauded PPAL for bringing “a big learning program to them”.
In separate statements, some participants called on the NGO to put in more time to educate them “because there are lots of speculations that are actually scaring them away from family planning in Grand Bassa County”.
Some participants said misinformation about family planning is preventing many of them from using the service which is consequently causing the increase in teenage pregnancy in the county.
Most of youth attending the program pledged their support to the project.
PPAL was founded in1956 with the objective of improving the health of the population of Liberia by providing comprehensive sexual reproductive health information and services including contraceptives for men, women, and young people of reproductive ages.
Report by Elton Wroinbee Tiah