The symposium helped to bridge the gap between the different sectors of society by bringing people together. The panel discussion provided a forum for policy-makers, traditional leaders, development programme workers, health professionals, school principals, academia, pupils and members of the community to discuss health and social problems in Northern Nigeria, and they reached an agreement that improving the health and wellbeing of adolescents was a common goal.
Insight was gained into the practical difficulties of gathering data from school students due to gatekeepers restricting access and vetoing specific aspects of the approved questionnaire. Multiple inter-related compounding issues, which adversely affect adolescent health were identified through the research, including mental health, violence, injury and substance misuse. The research revealed a strong demand for age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health information and services in the region.
The overall impact of the project was to provide evidence that adolescent sexual health is recognised as a serious health, social and economic constraint on development in the region. The project needs to move to the next phase – developing and helping local schools and other stakeholders to deliver better health services for adolescents.