Directorate General of Family Planning (DGFP), Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Unicef, jointly organized the event
Development stakeholders and United Nations agencies urged the government to invest heavily in adolescent population to secure a bright and prosperous future for them and pave the way for sustainable development of Bangladesh.
The Government officials and top representatives representing United Nations bodies made the call at the publication of National Plan of Action for Adolescent Health Strategy and national conference on adolescent health at Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC) on Sunday.
Directorate General of Family Planning (DGFP), Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Unicef, jointly organized the event.
Addressing the event, Abul Kalam Azad, director general of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said : "We cannot bring about a bright future for the nation, if we do not invest in adolescent health. Unless, we put special emphasis on adolescent health and education; economic future of the country would not be possible."
"Due to child marriage and a continued preference for early childbearing, adolescent pregnancy in Bangladesh is at 28%. It is a big problem and we should look into the matter very seriously," he said.
Asa Torkelsson, country representative of UNFPA said : "Unfortunately Bangladesh is a country of high prevalence of child marriage which is adversely affecting economic opportunity."
"Demographic dividend is possible if we invest in adolescent friendly health services," she added.
Dr Bardan Jung Rana, World Health Organization (WHO) representative to Bangladesh said: "36 million population of the country are in adolescent stage, age in between 10 to19, which is more than one fifth of the total population. Therefore, WHO will increase its technical support, and implementation of plans of actions in health services."
Harry Verweij - Ambassador of the Netherlands to Bangladesh, said: “Adolescent boys and girls face physical, social and emotional changes during this stage of their life. Therefore, adolescent sexual and reproductive health is important. Bangladesh government is ensuring easy access to adolescent health services in the country."
"Despite significant success in the country, many things have to be done specially to protect and safeguard adolescent population from sexual abuse and harassment," he said.
Speaking at the event, Health and Family Welfare Minister Jahid Maleque said: "Adolescent health service should meet standard quality criteria, and it has to be affordable to all."
"The government is providing health services free of cost but private hospitals and clinics don't do that. They charge more. They should reduce fees and service charges in an effort to make them affordable."
The minister urges parents to invest time on their children to monitor meaningful use of Internet and other mobile devices for their child. He urges teachers to develop ethical and moral strength of the adolescent population.
Later in the program the minister and the representatives from the UN bodies unveiled the National Plan of Action for Adolescent Health Strategy up to 2030.
Veera Mendonca, deputy representative of Unicef said: "Adolescent population is critical for the country's future health and development. They will be directly benefited from the national action plan.
Dr. Md. Joynal Haque, program manager (Adolescent Reproductive Health) of the MCH-Services Unit of DGFP discussed the present status of adolescents in Bangladesh and steps being taken by the government for providing adolescent health services. He also described the national plan of action in detail.