Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Charles Griffith and the United Nations Population Fund’s Caribbean Director, Alison Drayton, pose for a photograph following their meeting yesterday. (F. Belgrave/BGIS)

The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment is willing to work closely with the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) to help provide the necessary training and information for young people.

UNFPA is the sexual and reproductive health agency of the United Nations.  

Speaking at a meeting on Monday at the Ministry’s Sky Mall, Haggatt Hall office, in St. Michael, Minister Charles Griffith told UNPFA’s Caribbean Director, Alison Drayton, and her team, that his Ministry could help to implement aspects of their programme.

“It is expected that with the relaxing of the COVID protocols, that we can go back to summer camps, where we provide over the summer vacation camps for young persons across the country. So, that is one captive group that I believe we can focus on, in relation to delivering your programme.  In addition to that, we have several sporting initiatives, sports training programmes, that is again at community level, where your programme can come in,” he said.

Mr. Griffith also noted that the Ministry was interested in having persons trained by UNPFA, which would be of benefit to the Ministry’s youth programmes that are being delivered at the community level. 

“So, I know like the Health and Family Life Education Programme is primarily taught in the school setting, but we can also take it to the community as well.  So, for those who may not be involved at the school level, then at the community level when we do our programmes, we can infuse a whole lot of what you’re doing into our programme,” he stated.

The Minister added that the older teens and young adults who participate in the programmes carried out within the Ministry could benefit from the information provided by UNPFA, and noted that although teenage pregnancy was not out of control, the information provided “could stymie teenage pregnancy from rising”.

Ms. Drayton disclosed that there were plans to implement a Comprehensive Sexuality Education module within the Health and Family Life Education Programme going forward, noting that teenage pregnancy was very prevalent in the Caribbean. 

“As you’re very well aware, the Caribbean overall, fortunately, not Barbados per se, has some of the highest rates of adolescent pregnancy in the world. As a region, we’re second only to Sub Saharan Africa,” she said.

The Director also touched on the issue of high unemployment among the youth, violence against women and girls, and the need for proper nutrition.

UNPFA seeks to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, and to end preventable maternal death, gender-based violence and other harmful practices by 2030, as well as to help every young person fulfill their potential. 

It has provided support to the Caribbean since 1969 and remains the largest international source of population assistance to governments, non-governmental organisations and civil society.

The agency has assisted Barbados with the improvement of its National Strategic Adolescent Health and Development Plan, and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Programmes.

fabian.belgrave@barbados.gov.bb

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