The Agricola Health Centre launched its Community Parenting Support Group on Monday.
According to a press release from the Ministry of the Presidency, the programme is spearheaded by the Ministry of Public Health, in collaboration with the Ministries of Social Protection and Education, and aims to provide more comprehensive care aimed at ensuring that young persons have access to health services.
Speaking at the event, First Lady, Sandra Granger, encouraged the teenage boys and girls and the teenage parents at the event to seek out the sexual health, reproductive and other services offered at the clinic, the release stated. She spoke about the importance of health and nutrition during pregnancy and urged them to capitalise on the opportunity to continue their education, both during and after their pregnancies as an educated mother will better be able to meet her child’s needs.
“The second thing that I discovered, a few days ago, was the importance of early childhood development and the provision of a nurturing environment for better adults. These are scientific studies – the British Medical Association launched a series, The Lancet Series … [which] have proven that if your baby has a nurturing environment from birth to three years, as an adult, that child will be 25 times more active mentally and more productive than a child who is subject to want, who is not properly fed, who is abused and beaten,” the release quoted the First Lady as saying.
According to the release, Dr Travis Freeman, resident doctor at the Sophia Health Centre Teenage Pregnancy Support Group, echoed this view. He too urged teenagers to access the services to become “educated, to learn more about your body, to learn more about your sexuality that is what this initiative is about… we want to empower our young people, we want to empower our young ladies.”
Meanwhile, the release stated, Jenelle Sweatnam, School Health Nutrition HIV/AIDS Coordinator at the Ministry of Education said the Ministry strongly supports reintegrating teen mothers into the school system. The Ministry provides new-born care packages for teenage mothers who are registered at the health centres to take with them to the hospital.
“We realise that a teenage [mother] is in a very vulnerable position. Sometimes they don’t have the support that they need to provide… so we try to do it…and as well we would try to integrate [them] back into the school system so that… they can lead productive and good quality lives,” the release quoted her as saying.
Also in attendance at the opening ceremony were Dr Ertenisa Hamilton, Maternal Child Health Officer, Ministry of Public Health, Dr Alexey Rodriguez, Dr Merlin Persaud, who is a resident doctor at the Centre, Nurse/Midwife Cordellia Gomes and other nurses attached to the Centre. The Centre is managed by two doctors, five nurses and a clinic attendant and serves approximately 11,000 persons within the borders of Meadowbank and Providence, East Bank Demerara.