In view of the serious danger posed by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the Akatsi and Ketu Districts, International Needs Ghana, in collaboration with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), implemented a project to bridge the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information gap existing in the districts from 2006 to 2008.
A baseline survey was commissioned as part of the project to assess the perception and knowledge of the youth about their sexual health and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), in particular HIV/AIDS, and opinions of adults regarding the sexual behaviours of young people. The survey was conducted in the following ten local communities: Lume, Avega, Metsrikasa, Tadzewu, Akevegui, Xavi, Ative, Dzadzepe, Avernorpeme and Tsigbene.
The baseline survey revealed that faced with poverty and strong conservative cultural norms, parents were ill equipped to support their young children to respond appropriately to their changing socio-economic environment and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs. The majority of young people, 71% out of 200, who participated in the survey were sexually active and could be considered at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Although out-of-school girls were found to be the most sexually active, they were more likely to use condoms consistently and therefore less susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). It was the young, least mature and least experienced in-school girls, followed by in-school boys who were more vulnerable to STDs, as they perceived less risk, had sex for fun and used condoms least persistently.
This project aimed to equip young people, especially young women and the general public, with knowledge and information on SRH. Both male and female youths were targeted, however more emphasis was placed on young women as they were at greater risk than their male counterparts. Information dissemination and SRH services were done in two ways:
1. Through intensive community education and awareness raising programs using tools such as the radio, durbars and Information, Education and Communications (IEC) materials; and
2. Through the provision of guidance and counselling services on SRH.
The project trained ten (10) guidance and counselling officers to provide services addressing SRH needs of young people. Two hundred peer educators were also trained to provide community education and information services. Training materials used were produced with support from the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Education Service.
70, 000 young people, out-of-school, in school and school drop-outs, were expected to directly while 100,000 adults in Akatsi and Ketu North Districts were expected to benefit indirectly.