First Lady Addresses Adolescent Girls’ Health Summit, Advocates for Holistic Well-being

By Alvin Lansana Kargbo

Sierra Leone’s First Lady, Dr. Fatima Maada Bio, delivered a compelling keynote address at the 2023 Adolescent Girls’ Health Summit on Tuesday, October 10th. This landmark event took place at the prestigious Freetown City Auditorium and was dedicated to empowering adolescent girls and addressing their physical, mental, and reproductive health.

Organized by the West African Women and Girls Empowerment under the theme, “Breaking Barriers on Adolescent Girls’ Health,” the summit brought together key stakeholders to discuss pressing issues and strategies to support the well-being of adolescent girls in Sierra Leone.

The Program Director of West African Women and Girls Empowerment, Mariama Janneh, extended a warm welcome to attendees and emphasized the summit’s significance in addressing the health challenges faced by girls. Janneh highlighted the summit’s core goal of ensuring equal access to education, healthcare, and protection against harmful practices for all girls in Sierra Leone.

Mamadu Barry, President of the Children Forum Network, passionately addressed the audience regarding the challenges faced by adolescent girls in terms of their mental health. He called for the formulation of policies that promote sexual reproductive health, support girls’ rights, and ensure their access to education and healthcare.

Kadie Luseni, Advocacy Officer for Marie Stopes Sierra Leone, stressed the urgent need to combat societal inequality and dispel stereotypes hindering girls’ progress. She underscored the significance of targeted initiatives, education, and accessible healthcare in empowering young girls and unlocking their full potential.

A representative from World Vision International Sierra Leone discussed the critical issue of maternal and child health, emphasizing the importance of providing comprehensive information on nutrition, hygiene, contraception, and menstrual health, all of which play a vital role in ensuring the well-being of adolescent girls.

Salamatu Jagitay, IPAM Student Union President, drew attention to the unique health challenges faced by girls from adolescence through adulthood. She highlighted the increasing prevalence of mental health disorders among university students and appealed to the Government to invest in the mental health of young girls pursuing higher education.

Madam Nadia, the UNFPA Country Representative, expressed deep appreciation for the summit organizers and stressed that breaking barriers and ensuring the health and well-being of adolescent girls require collaborative efforts from families, communities, Government, and NGOs. She commended the unwavering commitment of Her Excellency, Sierra Leone’s First Lady, in championing the rights and well-being of girls and women.

In her keynote address, Dr. Fatima Maada Bio highlighted the critical link between substance abuse and mental health. She addressed the national concern surrounding the growing issue of Kush intake and stressed the importance of policies and regulations aimed at addressing the root causes of substance abuse.

Furthermore, she urged adolescent girls to abstain from engaging in sexual activity at a young age, citing the potential risks to their physical health, unintended pregnancies, and exposure to sexually transmitted infections. She emphasized that adolescence is a critical time for emotional and psychological development and encouraged girls to focus on education, personal growth, and future aspirations.

Dr. Fatima Bio also encouraged girls to engage in open dialogues with their parents and seek guidance from positive role models and mentors who can support them on their health journey.

The 2023 Adolescent Girls’ Health Summit concluded with a lively Q&A session, providing attendees with an opportunity to further explore important topics and gain insights from the distinguished speakers.

The summit, spearheaded by Sierra Leone’s First Lady, marked a significant step toward empowering adolescent girls and ensuring their holistic well-being. By promoting comprehensive health education and breaking barriers, the summit aimed to create an environment where every girl can thrive and achieve optimal health. It highlighted the importance of addressing the unique health challenges that adolescent girls face and the need for collaborative efforts to secure their well-being and future prospects.


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