Setting Reproductive Health Priorities Right, Ahead of ICPD25 Nairobi Summit.

 

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Dr. Ademola Olajide addressing participants at the CSO forum.

What has been achieved?
What has not been achieved?
What can be done to accelerate achievement of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action (PoA) commitments?

These are key questions that guided a two- day consultative meeting held in Nairobi on 3-4th July, ahead of the ICPD25 Nairobi Summit.

The meeting convened by UNFPA Kenya and Amref Health Kenya brought together civil society organisations, national government representatives, youth-led organisations, non-governmental organisations and the Danish Embassy to interrogate the commitments that were agreed upon in Ciaro, 25 years ago.

It should be noted that during the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly held in 2011, implementation of the PoA intended to end in 2014 was extended for five more years, as the set commitments were yet to be achieved.

ICPD PoA  appropriately emphasized the importance of investing in women and girls and the principal of reproductive health and rights for all. ICPD further highlights what needs to be done and the necessary accountability systems put in place to ensure that governments and stakeholders realize the commitments.

“As civil society, you have the responsibility to understand the ICPD process, consult extensively among yourselves and come up with clear commitments and a fairly robust way to engage the national government to make necessary commitment and hold them accountable on the commitments made” Said Dr. Ademola Olajide, UNFPA Kenya Representative, during his opening remarks.

“I believe this is the beginning of a milestone in a larger process for civil societies to seek the way forward, redefine how they want to engage and how they want to be engaged” He added.

UNFPA Kenya observes that; over the years, the world has changed for the better. Governments’ efforts to protect the health and rights of women and girls have gained momentum;-

>>Today more women have the means to decide if and when they become pregnant and have access to sexual reproductive health services. Fewer girls are subjected to child marriage, and fewer women die from the pregnancy-related complications. The number of maternal deaths each year, for example, decreased by about 40 per cent over the last 25 years, and today, one in five girls is forced into marriage before age 18, compared with one in three in 1994.

Despite impressive gains, urgent action is required to reduce mortality and morbidity, address the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents and young people, prevent the spread of HIV/AIDs and provide reproductive health care to women and youth in emergency situations<<

Statistics by World Health Organization indicate that an estimated 214 million women who want to prevent a pregnancy are not using a modern method of contraception. In developing countries, some 830 women die every day from preventable causes during pregnancy or while giving birth. Every day, 39,000 girls are forced into marriages, and every year 4 million girls are subjected to female genital mutilation.

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Dr. Ademola Olajide engaging with Dr. Githinji Gitahi, CEO Amref Health Kenya.

What has been achieved in Kenya, so far.

Besides the progressive reproductive health policies, the government of Kenya under the Ministry of Health has made notable progress at improving reproductive health of women and girls. As such, there is a free maternity care program dubbed Linda Mama initiative; a public funded health scheme that ensures pregnant women and infants have access to quality and affordable health services.

Another notable initiative spearheaded by The First Lady of Kenya, Margaret Kenyatta is the “Beyond Zero Campaign” , a campaign that seeks to bring prenatal and postnatal medical treatment to less privileged women and children in Kenya, by use of mobile clinics.

Stronger political will by the current Administration is being witnessed. At Women Deliver 2019, the president of Kenya, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, pledged to put an end on Female Genital Mutilation and make Kenya an equal society for all as priority for his term. A week ago, the vice president of Kenya, William Ruto, joined UNFPA Kenya, Eco Bank and The Anti-FGM Board in signing of the End FGM Beads Initiative, a key intervention that will empower pastoralist women by promoting the sale of bead products; increase awareness against retrogressive practices and foster sustainable development.

In addition Civil Society organisations also celebrate advocacy gains such as the recent landmark ruling on access to safe abortion in a case against Ministry of Health. The High Court ruled that withdrawing the 2012  Standards and Guidelines for Reducing Morbidity and Mortality from Unsafe Abortion in Kenya had violated both the right to comprehensive and accurate health information and the right to the highest attainable standard of health for women and girls.

Still, more has to be done…

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Dr. Ademola Olajide together with members of the Youth Advisory Council-UNFPA Kenya.

To accelerate the promise, civil societies have set a deliberate agenda to have mechanisms in place that will increase political will, invest in innovation and data, create financing momentum, engage with the private sector by ensuring that women and youth are at the forefront of shaping the priorities and agenda.

There too are emerging issues and increasingly opposing voices pushing back progress that has been made over the years, issues ranging from medicalization of FGM, current petition on the FGM law, rising teenage pregnancy, the recent ruling on LGBTQIs, a rapidly ageing population to migration among other issues. To accelerate the promise, SRHR stakeholders have to devise innovative ways to tackle these issues.

This meeting comes ahead of the up-coming ICPD25 Summit that will be held in Nairobi on 12-14 November.

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