Jamaica will join the rest of the world in observing World Population Day on July 11, under the theme: 'Universal Access to Reproductive Health Service’.
Advocacy and Communication Advisor of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Althea Buchannan, said the observance will allow Jamaicans to become more aware and knowledgeable of the critical issues surrounding maternal and reproductive health, which include family planning and skilled assistance during child birth.
"The single largest cause of death and hospitalisation for adolescent girls is pregnancy and its related conditions. So, as a society, we have a responsibility to provide age appropriate information and services as well as supplies to young people, ages 15 to 24, in order to help them to make informed decisions for their lives," Mrs. Buchannan added.
She pointed out that this is particularly important to Jamaica's development, as the more informed people are about their reproductive health, the better prepared they are to make choices about their health.
To commemorate the day, the UNFPA, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and other partners, will host a symposium on July 11, at Emancipation Park in Kingston, from 4.00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Themed: 'Adolescent Reproductive Health – It's your Right, Claim it with Responsibility', the symposium will explore topics such as the history and development of reproductive health services in the Caribbean, adolescent sexuality and reproductive health in Jamaica, and will also address issues concerning the legal and policy environment that affect adolescent reproductive health.
The symposium is geared towards building public awareness of the important linkages between sexual and reproductive health, and an individual’s ability to realise his or her full potential, which undoubtedly aids in national development.
“We want young people to be able to achieve their full potential," Mrs. Buchannan said, while pointing to the fact that mistimed pregnancies and the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections can have a detrimental impact on the ability of adolescents to achieve their full potential.
Mrs. Buchannan is urging all parents and guardians to educate their children about safe reproductive and sexual health practices, so that they will become competent in making the correct choices.
July 11 has been celebrated as World Population Day since 1987, to draw attention to the importance of development issues, especially those relating to population and reproductive health.
By Toni-Ann Russell, PRO