Nairobi, November 6, 2019: The National Council for Population and Development, in conjunction with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Amref Health Africa held a media breakfast to create awareness and inform media stakeholders why the ICPD summit is critical for the development of the country as well as the role it will play in line with the Big Four Agenda. The session also aimed at creating public awareness on the importance of universal health coverage, sexual and reproductive health rights and ending gender-based violence and harmful practices.
This year, the International Conference on Population and Development marks the 25th anniversary of a landmark adoption of Programme of Action which called for women’s reproductive health and rights to take centre stage in national and global development efforts. This Programme was to be implemented during a 20-year period between 1994 and 2014, but its implementation and progress has been considerably slow. In particular, the Programme had five aims that were to reduce preventable maternal deaths by 75 per cent globally, which by 2014 had reduced by roughly 40 per cent. The second aim was to eliminate all forms of exploitation, abuse, harassment and violence against women, adolescents and children. Data on violence against women is difficult to as there is discouragement, fear and stigma associated with reporting cases of abuse.
The third was ending harmful practices against women and girls. These include child marriage and female genital mutilation, which have adverse effects on the girls’ developing body. In 1994, UNFPA’s statistics indicated that 1 in 4 girls were child brides. In 2019, these were 1 in 5. In countries that had a high prevalence of female genital mutilation, the percentage of girls having undergone the cut fell from 49 to 31 per cent in 2019. The fourth aim of the Programme was to end the unmet need for family planning. This was noted to be essential for poverty reduction, gender equality advancements and lowering the incidence of pregnancy-related deaths. However, in developing regions, women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using safe and effective family planning methods due to lack of access to information or services to lack of support from their partners or communities.
The last aim of the Programme of Action was to advance gender equality by accelerating women’s equal participation and equitable representation at all levels of the political process and public life. There is also immense pressure on governments to achieve the Global Sustainable Goals by the year 2030; however, this cannot be fully realized as there lies a challenge in areas such as access to education and critical health services.
The president of Kenya had prioritized the achievement of universal health coverage as one of his ‘Big Four Agenda’ that will lead the transformation of Kenya by 2022. Universal health coverage is therefore essential in addressing our national challenges and will go a long way in achieving the core principle of the Vision 2030 Agenda; that is, the realization of a society where “no one is left behind.” All health sector stakeholders including County Governments play a critical role in delivery of accessible and sustainable quality health services. In addition, empowerment of women and girls, access to education and critical health services through the implementation of the Programme of Action lays the foundation for sustainable development.
The Programme of Action, which was adopted in Cairo, Egypt by 179 government officials called for all people to have access to comprehensive reproductive health care which includes voluntary family planning, safe pregnancy and childbirth services, and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections. Today, the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) is to refer to the consensus that reproductive health and rights are human rights and should be recognized as such.
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative to Kenya, Dr Ademola Olajide indicated that despite the 25 per cent increase in voluntary access to modern contraception in the last 25 years, there are still millions of women who do not have access to these contraceptive methods for the prevention of unintended pregnancies. Statistics in 2018 indicate that one in three women in Africa are using modern methods of contraception as compared to one in 10 in 1969. ICPD’s target for the reduction of maternal deaths was less than 75 per 100,000 live births. However, maternal deaths have not been on a significant decline, with 1 in 40 women projected to die from preventable maternal causes. He pointed out that in Africa, 95 per 1000 births occur to adolescents aged between 15 and 19, which is more than double the global average.
The representative from the National Council for Population and Development (NCPD) asserted that they conduct ICPD reviews every five years- the last being in 2018 and noted that as such, Kenya has achieved remarkable progress by surpassing family planning targets. She added that NCPD is constantly seeking ways of improving the family planning program as a pathway towards population growth management and consequently attaining a quality life for Kenya’s population.
Between 12th and 14th of November, governments, advocates, health organizations, women’s and youth activists and others will gather in Kenya for the Nairobi Summit under the theme: The Nairobi Summit on ICPD25: Accelerating the promise. There, they will seek clear commitments that will advance the goals of the ICPD and secure the rights and dignity of all, as well as advance the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action. Journalists were urged to pay attention to the population dynamics in Kenya and in the world today, promote population and development issues and look into the challenges and opportunities for media professionals and institutions to amplifying population dynamics in society.
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