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17.6 million Nigerian youths unemployed – Health minister

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said on Thursday at least 66 percent of Nigerian children in rural areas cannot read or write.

Ehanire, who stated at the end of a two-day workshop on adolescents health in Abuja, added that at least 17.6 million Nigerian youths are currently employed.

He also disclosed that Nigeria has a higher burden of adolescent pregnancy and childbearing with 19 percent of teenagers (15-19) already mothers or pregnant with their first child.

He also disclosed that Nigeria has a higher burden of adolescent pregnancy and childbearing with 19 percent of teenagers (15-19) are already mothers or pregnant with their first child.

The event was organised by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in collaboration with other UN agencies, Ministries of Health, Education, Network of Young People, and Civil Society Organisations.

Represented at the forum by the Head of Department of Family Health in the ministry, Dr. Salma Ibrahim Anas-Kolo, the minister said pregnant adolescent girls have poor health-seeking behaviour, while about 32 percent of teenage women less than 20 years do not receive ante-natal care.

According to him, Nigeria has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world with an estimated 1.9 million people living with HIV/AIDS.

Ehanire said: “In Nigeria, the possibility of a child born and achieving its full professional and economic potentials is low; the Human Capital Index put this at 36 percent. This is lower than the average in the Sub-Saharan region and Low and Middle-Income countries.

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“The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan notes that Nigeria ranks 137 out of 140 in infant mortality rate, 10 million children are out of school, 66 percent of children in rural areas cannot read or write, and 17.6 million youths are unemployed.

“According to NDHS, Nigeria has a higher burden of adolescent pregnancy and childbearing. 19 percent of teenagers (15-19 years) are already mothers or pregnant with their first child. The figure is higher in the Northern part than in the South.

“Pregnant adolescent has poor health-seeking behavior; about 32 percent of teenage women less than 20 years receive no ANC, 70 percent deliver at home and 66 percent deliver with unskilled birth attendants.

“Nigeria has high level of child marriage in the world; 16 percent are married by age 15 and 43 percent by 18. This is common among women in the Northern part of the country, women with a low level of education and low socioeconomic status.”

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