Africa Regional Consultation on Achieving MDG 5: Challenges, Opportunities and Lessons Learned
Partners in Population and Development Africa Regional Office in partnership with Women Deliver organized a regional consultation on Achieving MDG 5: Challenges, Opportunities and Lessons Learned. This meeting took place on 27 and 28 March 2012 at Speke Resort Munyonyo, in Kampala, Uganda. Almost 200 partners, including policy-makers, researchers, experts and advocates from 35 countries gathered in a forum to discuss key issues in the struggle to achieve Millennium Development Goal 5, the UN MDG aimed at improving maternal health and reducing maternal mortality.
The regional consultation was opened formally by Her Excellency, Mrs. Janet Museveni, the First Lady of Uganda, who joined health advocates in the Africa region in renewing and discussing their commitment to women’s and children’s health. In her opening remarks H.E. Mrs. Museveni, express that, “Maternal health remains a major challenge in our region; as a mother dies, the child left behind has very little chance of surviving compared to those with mothers and this cannot be left to continue”. Ms Museveni argued that some local solutions within reach of the Sub-Saharan region could make the much-needed difference.
“By participating in this important meeting, Africa’s leaders are decisively demonstrating their commitment to improving the lives of Africa’s girls and women,” said Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, Africa Regional Director of Partners in Population and Development. “On this continent and around the world, girls and women play a critical role in their families, communities and nations, and we owe it to them to do all we can to protect their health and well being.” Deputy Executive Director of PPD Dr. Dr. Lorna Tumwebaze in her speech thanked every participant for giving a voice to a mother who is not in this audience and not on the participants and also thankful to the participants that they are imploring service providers to look deep within and uphold ethical principles and human values.
During these two day consultation different sessions focused on identifying key challenges and opportunities to improve reproductive and maternal health in Africa. Topics included regional success stories, lessons learned, and pathways for future progress in maternal and reproductive health with a focus on the International Conference on Population and Development’s (ICPD) Plan of Action and MDG. Discussions also identified the key interventions that advocacy efforts should tackle. These included: addressing inadequate coverage of essential interventions for women and children; strengthening health systems to provide integrated quality care; Supporting vulnerable adolescent girls through legislation, education and health interventions; and removing the barriers to access to health (i.e. financial, cultural, social and others). A final discussion looked at the MDG and ICPD Frameworks, and how to prioritize girls and women in the post-2015 Framework following the target year of the MDGs.
The meeting was supported by: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Danish International Development Agency, MSD, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, UNAIDS and The World Bank. A number of key documents such as meeting agenda, speeches and presentations from the meeting are available online by clicking on the links below.
Participation of Women Leaders of PPD Countries was near-universal at the Fifty-sixth Session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York
The 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW56) brought together government officials, rural women, representatives of the United Nations and civil society, the media and the private sector. They met at United Nations headquarters in New York to review progress, share experiences and good practices, analyze gaps and challenges and agree on priority actions to accelerate the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the achievement of gender equality.
Unleashing the potential of rural women — a quarter of the world’s population — was critical to ending global poverty and hunger, several high-level speakers said as the Commission on the Status of Women opened its fifty-sixth annual session on 27th February 2012.“Empowering women is not just good for women, it is good for all of us,” Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), said at the first meeting of the two-week session, which concludes on 16 March.
The current session of the Commission on Status of Women was one of the most well attended meetings at New York. Representatives of almost all PPD member and potential member countries spoke on their experiences in dealing with empowerment of women in their national contexts.
Dr. Joe Thomas joins as the new Executive Director of Partners in Population and Development (PPD)
Partners in Population and Development (PPD), an inter-governmental organization comprised of 25 developing countries, is pleased to announce the appointment of its new Executive Director, Dr. Joe Thomas, who took up the assignment on 16th April 2012.
PPD, that has its permanent headquarter secretariat in Dhaka Bangladesh, was established at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo, Egypt in 1994 to promote South-South Cooperation in Reproductive Health, Population and Development. The organization is a Permanent Observer at the United Nations and has Diplomatic Status in Bangladesh.
Dr. Joe Thomas, who is not new to Bangladesh, is an accomplished social anthropologist, public Health professor, author and researcher with over 20 years of international work experience in the Asia Pacific region, Australia, China, Africa, Europe and East Timor. He has authored two books and published more than 50 articles in peer reviewed journals. He is also the founder director of Jodhpur School of Public Health (JSPH) in India, where he has lectured and supervised masters and PhD students in Public Health as a visiting member of faculty.
Dr. Joe Thomas is a visionary leader that has recently been awarded a ‘meritorious award’ for his exemplary contribution to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic response. He has long and short term experience in the population and development sector working with governments, the United Nations, International NGOs, civil society organizations including faith based institutions in over 20 countries in the Asia and Africa regions. He has vast experience in resource mobilization, program development, ingenious networking, capacity building, knowledge management, technical backstopping and impact evaluation.
Dr. Joe Thomas has a passion for rights and gender based reproductive health programming in the context of the ICPD Program of Action and the Millennium Development Goals to address the needs of the highly vulnerable and hard to reach sectors of the population including women, children and adolescents.
Before joining PPD, Dr. Thomas served as the Director of the UNAIDS Technical Support Facility for South Asia (TSF-SA) based in Kathmandu, Nepal providing leadership to programs and staff in eight countries.
Africa Regional Consultation participants urged for maternal health during the World MPs meeting in Kampala
The world parliamentarians’ meeting in Kampala dominated by maternal health issues, as African women and health experts push for more commitment to reduce the high pregnancy related deaths. The one week Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting opened on March 31. Several consultations by different lobby groups over different issues, including one on maternal health have been taking place in Kampala prior to the IPU meet. The health experts during the consultation at the Speke Resort, Munyonyo, said that they are concerned at the stubbornly high numbers of women dying in pregnancy and childbirth or as a result. They said that there is need to change strategy to tackle the issue from all fronts including Parliament and at societal level.
Statistics show that progress in the reduction of pregnancy related deaths was very slow that by 2006, it was only at 435 from 505 out of every 100,000 pregnant women. Other African countries have similar statistics with some worse off than Uganda though others are slightly better.The UN set Millennium Development Goal number five targets a reduction to 131 or below out of 100,000 pregnant women by 2015. The experts said that clearly the goal may not be met since the 2015 is only three years away. The child mortality rates improved significantly from 183 out of 1000 live births to 54 currently.
The participants in the consultation on maternal health said that maternal health should not be tagged to the Millennium Development Goals, which would be beneficiaries see as alien. They said that instead people should be told how maternal health has been an African priority for a very long time and relate it to their own situations so that they do not think it is dictated from above.
The Participants also objected to an approach of the vocal pro-rights advocates of ridiculing pro-life, traditional and religious groups that believe in prayer as a solution. They said that these groups have a large following and commands have a big influence on society.
Dr. Chris Baryomunsi a Ugandan MP on the Parliamentary Commission and chair of the Parliament’s forum for Food security and Development said that resources alone should not be blamed for the high maternal mortality rates. Baryomunsi said that even in cases where money was available there has not been impact`. Instead, he said, “we should examine ourselves and see if we are doing the right thing and make ourselves accountable to that woman who s died or is sick due to pregnancy. He said that the causes of maternal deaths are known but the question should be can’t it be stopped, “We must address ourselves to accountability and this does not mean only those who handle money, it in whatever we are doing, as MPs, Civil society organizations. Donors, professionals and others in positions of responsibility. The question of accountability remains extremely important…,” he said. He said that the other question should be political will to deal with maternal health. He said that in the Abuja conference 15 years ago, African government committed themselves to committing 15% of the budgets to health, but few of them have done it.
He said that the MPs should be taken to task because they are the ones who allocate resources. He said that several countries like Uganda and Tanzania are trying to make laws to address safe motherhood.
Breakfast Meeting with UN Representatives of Member Counties
The Observer Mission of Partners in Population and Development and the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations and organized a breakfast meeting on South-South Cooperation for the Permanent Missions to the UN on 26 April 2012 at the Bangladesh Mission, in New York.
Representatives of several Permanent Missions, United Nations agencies, PPD Board member Dr. Boniface O. K’Oyugi, MBS Secretary, PPD Board and Director General, National Coordinating Agency for Population and Development, Kenya and Mr. Hu Hongtao, PCC and Deputy Director-General Department of International Cooperation, National Population and Family Planning Commission, China attended the briefing. Participants focused importance of the way that governments deal with burgeoning populations and present financial crisis.
H.E the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh Dr. Abdul Momen in his opening remarks said that dealing with growing populations, especially at a time of scarcity, requires planning and organizational commitment. Dr. Boniface O. K’Oyugi, highlighted on the countries’ initiatives for the national budget enhancement for reproductive health and population development program.
Dr. Joe Thomas, Executive Director of PPD, emphasized on the integration the issue of empowerment and rights in the population and development issue. He added PPD at present lobbying for the needs of right based approach in post ICPD and MDG initiatives.
The South-South News covered the event as a video clip on their website.