The President, John Dramani Mahama, has underscored the importance of testing for Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) in order to be able to prolong life through early detection and medication and to prevent Mother-To-Child transmission of the virus.
President Mahanma also condemned child marriages, adding that children ought to enroll, stay in school, complete school and reach their full potential.
The concept of the Community Day Senior High School (CDSHS), he said, was, therefore, designed with that objective of preventing girl-child marriages by keeping them in school.
He was addressing the opening session of the 7th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights (ACSHR) in Accra, yesterday.
The five-day Conference is being organized by the African Federation for Sexual Health and Rights (AFSHR), and hosted by Curious Minds, Ghana under the proud patronage of the First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, Her Excellency Lordina Mahama.
The theme for the conference is 'Realizing Demographic dividend--The Critical Importance of Adolescents and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights'.
In a key note address, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), pledged the commitment of UNFPA in meeting the aspirations of the youth in order to advance the cause of economic development.
Prof. Osotimehin said there was no better investment in the world than in the health of its people and stressed the need for better reproductive health rights and to protect young adolescent girls.
He said community action was required to advance the cause of equality, equity, human rights and justice by stopping early girl-child marriage and that the African Union meeting in 2017 would be devoted to demographic dividend.
In a Goodwill message, Ms Akosua Agyepong, an adolescent's representative, stressed the need to build and sustain strong partnerships as well as the formulation and implementation of good policies in efforts at promoting and protecting the sexual health and rights of girls
Welcoming participants to the conference, Dr Mrs Lordina Mahama, First Lady of the Republic of Ghana and President of the Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), pledged the commitment of OAFLA to intensifying efforts at supporting the growth and progress of Africa in the year 2016.
Dr Mrs Mahama said the strategy for translating that commitment into action would be to invest in the health and general development of adolescents and young people, and by working together with young people to ensure that girls were not forced into early marriage, but were enrolled, stayed in school and attained the highest levels of education.
The 7th ACSHR is expected to deliberate on sexual and reproductive health of adolescents and youth sub-types including early, middle and late adolescents, adolescent and youth living with HIV, youth in conflict situations and youth living with disabilities
It will also discuss issues on the vulnerable, excluded and key/marginalized populations, sexuality education, youth-friendly services, forced/early marriage, adolescent motherhood, abortions, gender-based violence and maternal morbidity, and mortality.
Apart from expert meetings, constituency-focused meetings and capacity-building workshops, pre-conferences-- Youth pre-conference, Women's pre-conference, Parliamentarians' pre-conference and Media pre-conferences-- will also be held.