According to reports, the Lagos State Government Thursday disclosed that 24.2 per cent of women in Lagos State had their first sexual intercourse before the age of 18 years.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, gave the statistics at the first lecture and award series of Inspiration 92.3fm held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island.
While the state governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, was the special guest of honour at the lecture, Idris spoke on ‘Reproductive Health: Beyond Cultural Limitations and Concerns.’
Idris disclosed that the National Demographic and Health Survey and the Multi-Indicator Cluster Survey reported that 24.2 per cent of women in Lagos had their first sexual intercourse before attaining the age of 18 years.
He put the national figures of women that have sex before the age of 18 at about 51 per cent, noting that in Lagos, one out of every four women would have been exposed to sex before 18 and the national average for Nigeria is one of two women.
He said: The difference in these figures might be attributed to several factors, such as female education, urbanization, child marriages etc. With an average age at first birth at 20 years, about 22.5 per cent of pregnancies are by teenagers in Nigeria.
“More worrying, however, is that reports show that as at this year, about 40 per cent of women in the South-west have experienced physical violence since age 15 and sexual violence cannot be excluded from these statistics.”
According to him, “In other words, in a country where more than 60 per cent of its population are young people and significant numbers of these young people are exposed to sexual intercourse at an early age either voluntarily or violently, a lot of potential problems emerge.
“Such problems are associated with sexually transmitted infections, childhood pregnancy, trauma and its accompanying physical and mental health implications. This means that there must be access to knowledge about sexual health and systems that modify behaviour, as well as, access to services that prevent and manage them.”
He listed issues that affected reproductive health to include age, rural-urban dwellers, education, socio-economic status, work, cultural and social norms, such as female genital mutilation, early marriage; female disinheritance, gender and socio-economic issues, human rights, existing laws, policies, regulations and strategies.
Idris recommended that to improve the reproductive health system, there must be education, increased investment in health, good governance, social and economic empowerment of women, strengthening health services, development of a rights-based code of ethics and domestication of international conventions.
Acting Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Ademola Mogbojuri, who was represented by Mrs Bolaji Abayomi, advised mothers to practise exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of giving birth and continue to breastfeed their babies for three years with the addition of supplements in order to make for healthy living of the child.
Chairman of the occasion, Femi Gbadebo, said for proper reproductive healthcare, the issues of ante-natal, mother and child care, among others must be addressed, adding that “we need to educate ourselves on what needs to be done”.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Amazing Inspiration Media, Mr. Erastus Akingbola, said the decision to hold the lecture was borne out of the need to contribute to the issue of healthy living among the people.