Mrs. Diana Bona (standing) during one of her outreaches
Diana Bona, a public health nurse and the regional focal person for adolescent health in the Greater Accra region, is committed to increasing access to adolescent health education in schools within her region.
According to Bona, in 2015 there were over 10,000 cases of teenage pregnancy in the Greater Accra Region. Many of these teenagers are unmarried and have to drop out of school because of the pregnancy. “If I am able to do something to help them, this is where I will put my emphasis,” explains Bona.
Bona, who is the Principal Nursing Officer and has worked in public health for over 15 years, commended the HealthKeepers Network (HKN), a non-profit organization based in Accra, for their immense contribution towards adolescent health education. Bona works with the HKN team on the Adolescent Reproductive Health Program in and out of school.
As a public health nurse, Bona is able to reach a larger population, compared to working in clinical settings where the interaction is one-on-one.
Touching on challenges, Bona cited situations in which she faces restrictions while educating adolescents in schools on how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and having protected sexual intercourse. “The typical Ghanaian would not want to educate his or her child about using contraceptives, especially a teenager, but we all know that some of the teenagers do indulge in sex. If you go to a school and you are educating [the students], the teacher [will] frown on what you are saying and [won’t] want you to talk about sex. So when it gets to this point it becomes very difficult because you know you want to discuss sex with them but, on the other hand, you are restricted. So sometimes you have to leave your phone number so that [the students] can reach you when there is the need.”
The clubs and groups Bona formed in schools and communities have impacted many lives. She mentions, “When you are taking care of or educating people you have to take into consideration their cultural background, the society they live in, their age and all those things. If you don’t take into consideration all these factors you will think you have done something, but at the end of the day you will not be able to impact them positively.”
Anytime Bona supports a client, she keeps in mind that confidentiality and privacy are the hallmark of every health worker. According to her, it is her duty to keep a client’s information secret. “You can only extend it to a third party if the person permits you, so confidentiality and privacy is our core value.”
With additional funding provided by a grant awarded under Advancing Partners & Communities (APC), (HealthKeepers Network) HKN plans to expand their community-based family planning (CBFP) project. The CBFP project aims to reduce the gap between the demand and the supply of HIV prevention and family planning (FP) products. The program provides access to affordable contraception, including condoms and oral contraceptives, as well as other products and services.