By Peter Amine
Jos, – Women Friendly Initiative (WFI), a non-governmental organisation, has trained selected journalists to help address adolescents health issues and malnutrition among Nigerians.
WFI Chief Executive Officer, Dr Francis Eremutha, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the training would improve journalists capacities to interrogate policies on adolescents health services and nutritional plan.
Eremutha said that the training was part of Strengthening Civic Advocacy for Local Engagements in Nigeria (SCALE -Project) funded by USAID.
The chief executive said that the SCALE – Project advocated for several policy implementation in Nigeria.
He added that WFI focus was on Adolescents and Youths Friendly Health Services (AYFHS) and the National Strategic Plan of Action for Nutrition (NSPAN).
“Because of the kind of work we are doing, we have a feeling that one of the greatest tool that we must utilize in the course of our work is to carry journalists along.
“We believe journalists will help us tell the stories and magnify the challenges that we are addressing, as we promote the implementation of the policies across the states where we are working.
“The three-day workshop brought selected journalists from Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, Kwara, Ebonyi and FCT to share with them, how those policies evolved.
”And also the expectations of those policies in terms of what they were supposed to achieve and the level of implementation in these states we are working.
“To see how we can advocate, to call government in place at both state and local government level and see how we can effectively develop Local Governmentd Areas (LGAs) we can call best practice LGAs for those two policies.”
He expressed hope that in the next three years, when those policies have been implemented in those states, and LGAs, those LGAs would become the model that could be shared across the country for others to learn from.
According to him, lessons learnt from implementing those policies would become the arguments for expansion and scale up across the country.
“The adolescents who are from the age of 11-19 years are plagued with several challenges.
“In the past, we used to talk about adolescents as people who are just growing and have issues with developmental challenges.
“But today, adolescents are graduates without jobs and others who are entering school at ages 11-12 years that ordinarily the parents should be guiding.
“But now we have boarding schools everywhere and they are in boarding schools and they are looking at their peers for direction.
“So, peer influence among adolescents has grown and today we have those who are into drugs and those into commercial sex, those who are into cultism, those who are even into armed robbery so that they can carry big phones.”
Eremutha stated what WFI was trying to do was to engage the adolescence productively, so that people would have time and spend more effort programming their mind into what is developmental and positively enriching.
The CEO added that the initiative was also to take them away from the vices by promoting adolescents youth as an all round developemental tool that can bring them out of the crisis.
In the area of nutrition, Eremutha said that it was no secret that the herder/farmer clashes and the weather and other challenges that come with food production and agriculture were limiting the availability of nutrients for Nigerians.
“So, nutrition has become a challenge across the board. From the pregnant woman to the breastfeeding mother to the zero to five year old child to even the adolscents, almost everybody is malnourished in this country.
“We are promoting the nutritional policy that also allow home gardening to allow the use of what we have to get what we want within our communities,” he added. (NAN)