nigeria-adolescent

University of Hull researchers tackle teen health issues in Nigeria

 

Health experts from the University of Hull are helping to tackle the health challenges faced by adolescents in Nigeria.

Funded by Research England’s Global Challenges Research Fund and in partnership with a Nigerian organisation that tackles public health challenges, FAYOHI, the team are sharing their expertise in Jigawa and Kano States to identify the health needs of adolescents and develop improvements to healthcare practice and policy in the region.

A recent visit to Kano in Northern Nigeria provided the University’s researchers with an opportunity to work with policy-makers, NGOs, health practitioners, academics, community organisations, and adolescents at a research event: ‘Promoting adolescent health in Nigeria’.

Video credit: African Independent Television

Addressing adolescent health issues – such as substance misuse, mental health, nutrition, personal/menstrual hygiene, violence and injury – is a priority in the region, which has some of the worst health problems compared with other regions in Nigeria.

“The situation there is critical,” said Professor Lesley Smith, who has more than 20 years’ experience in health research.

“In this region of Nigeria, one in 13 women dies during pregnancy or childbirth. Some of the reasons for this are that girls marry at a young age – the average is 15 years old – and consequently get pregnant soon after. There is a high unmet need for sexual and reproductive health education and family planning services.” 

 

“With two million adolescents living on the streets in Kano out of a population of 17 million – there is an urgent need to tackle the influencing factors of health such as lack of education and poverty which are driving young people on to the streets."

Professor Lesley Smith

 

By working with the Family and Youth Health Initiative, a public health non-governmental organisation operating in Jigawa State, Nigeria, the University’s research team aims to improve health knowledge and health behaviours of adolescents – addressing several important sustainable development goals. 

“With two million adolescents living on the streets in Kano out of a population of 17 million – there is also an urgent need to tackle the influencing factors of health such as lack of education and poverty which are driving young people on to the streets,” said Professor Smith.

The visit by Professor Smith and Research Fellow Franklin Onukwugha was welcomed by Dr Ahmed Sarki, the founder of FAYOHI and faculty member at Uganda’s Aga Khan University, and his team Barrister Maryam Ahmad Abubakar and Isah Musa Auyo.

Dr Sarki said: “We were delighted that Professor Smith and the research team from the University of Hull, which also involves Professor Monica Magadi, were able to share their knowledge with us so that we can make a difference to the lives of young people in Nigeria. Some of the issues we are facing are global problems – so it is extremely helpful for researchers from other areas – who are working towards providing solutions to some of the same health concerns for their adolescent population – to advise on practical recommendations and strategies.” 

FAYOHI, which was founded in 2012, focuses on tackling public health challenges in Jigawa State and Northern Nigeria. Specifically, FAYOHI concentrates on contributing towards achieving the SDGs 3 (ensuring healthy lives for all at all ages), and, 6 (clean water and sanitation). 

The University’s collaboration to address adolescent health in Nigeria is just one of the ways the University’s Maternal and Reproductive Health group is working with partners around the world to tackle global health issues involving HIV/AIDS, and adolescent sexual and reproductive health in Sub-Saharan Africa and India.

 

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