Sexual health education is vital

Letters, Normal

The National Monday, December 13, 2010

I REFER to your report “Ban sex education, lawyers meet told” (Dec 6).
The technical adviser to lifestyle diseases said schools should not teach sexual education to students until they were mature.
How does he define “mature” and when is the right time?
The term sex education may cause some people to cringe.
Instead, I would call it sexual health education whereby the health part of it is incorporated.
We are already seeing primary school students smoking and drinking alcohol, taking drugs and possibly having sex.
Let us be realistic here, girls and boys as young as 14 years old are already having sex.
As such, if we think student are mature at 14, 50% or more of them could have had sex by the time we start sexual health education.
How many times have we read in both our dailies about “sugar daddies” picking up young girls from primary and high schools?
Many of these young girls will not say no to these “sugar daddies” if they end up with a crisp K50 or K100 note.
Are we going to wait till these teenagers become pregnant and seeking abortion, contracting sexually transmitted diseases or HIV before we start sexual health education?
By then, I am sorry to say it is too late.
Lifestyle diseases are preventable and emphasis should be on how one can avoid getting them.
Adolescent health is very important as adolescents (teenagers) want to try new things in life at that age.
Thus, they have to be educated on alcohol, drugs, sex and other lifestyle issues that can be destructive.
Girls as young as 15 are contracting STIs and HIV, and when pregnant, take life-threatening measures with their boyfriends or relatives to try get rid of the unwanted pregnancy.
This is the reality and, almost every week, a teenager is seen suffering from this awful experience.
There is a HIV epidemic in PNG and can you imagine sending our teenagers out on the streets on weekends and holidays without any sexual health education?
Drugs and alcohol are already in the hands of teenagers and sex always come with these two.
Therefore, sexual health education must be taught so adolescents are aware of bad things that happen when one cannot control their sexual desires.
As a health worker involved in women’s health and seeing preventable conditions in teenagers that arise from bad sexual practice, I disagree with the stand the technical adviser is taking as that works only in a perfect world which PNG is far from.
Why is the lifestyle disease health adviser even saying things that do not go in line with the National Health Plan’s “Health services and education for all”? 
Adolescent reproductive health lessons must be taught in schools as it will prevent our young people from getting into these bad practices.
They must be made aware of the facts of life and in return also spread awareness on women’s health which help to reduce high maternal mortality rate.
Prevention is better than cure, so let us prepare our adolescents (teenagers) for the future.


Frank Apamumu 
Port Moresby