By Ebrima Jallow
A two-day convergence of the West Africa Leaders Forum on Population and Development was hosted by National Youth Council, NYC.
They were in collaboration with the African Youth Commission and the West African heath organisation (Waho).
The forum brought together 100 youth leaders and youth organisations from Ecowas and Sahel countries, providing them the platform to share their works and initiatives at national levels to advance the agenda of the International Conference on Population and Development, ICPD.
In hopes of creating solutions to tackling problems underpinning young people, the forum was staged under the theme ICPD 25 the contributions of West African youth to accelerating the promise.
Dembo Kambi, chairman of the NYC, said more often than not, governments and organisations only use the word ‘youth’ to beautify their documents when youths in fact are not getting what they should be receiving from those institutions. He added that there are numerous issues affecting young people in our society which needs to be addressed.
“The decisions and findings that we are going to make here and the recommendations that will emerge from this meeting is going to represent the views of millions of young people across the sub region,” he said.
“The substance abuse, the infant mortality rate, the child mortality rate, the use of drugs, unemployment and conflicts… these are issues affecting our wellbeing as young people.”
Kunle Adeniyi, resident representative, UNFPA The Gambia, said: “If indeed we have moved and accelerated that decisions that were made in Cairo [the Cairo Consensus] then a lot of the issues we have now wouldn’t be a problem because we would have invested in sexual and reproductive health. We would have made family planning information and services available to the young person, we would have made sure that every girl child in every country in West Africa has access to quality education.”
Representing the health minister, deputy permanent secretary, Karamba Keita, equipped:” The mission of the Ministry of Health is to contribute to socioeconomic development and wealth creation by promoting and protecting the health of the population through equitable provision of quality health care within the context of primary health care.”
Speaking on behalf of the director general of Waho, Dr Mongbo Medessi Yves Armand said the forum seeks to harness the demographic dividend of West Africa in order to achieve the SDGs and Universal health coverage (UHC).
He said: “It is estimated that more than 60 percent of the population of our region are young people under 35 years. This therefore suggests that issues concerning young people must be given priority in all development policies. Our young people are the future of our nations.”