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IP/09/1503

Brussels, 13 October 2009

22 ACP countries to discuss universal access to family planning, safe motherhood and prevention of HIV/AIDS

The European Commission has provided € 32 million in assistance to 22 African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries 1 over a period of 6 years to help fight poverty and to increase access to and quality of sexual and reproductive health services and commodities. The International Workshop on Poverty Eradication and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), taking place from 14-15 October 2009 in Brussels, will evaluate the European Commission contribution to SRHR and discuss lessons learned and ways forward.

" Promoting universal sexual and reproductive health and rights is an essential step to achieve the Millenium Development Goals. It is important to support women’s right of choice in family planning and to fight against intolerable maternal mortality rates thereby contributing to build a more equitable, stable and peaceful world ," says Development Commissioner Karel De Gucht. "I am glad that the European Commission has actively contributed to implement the Programme of Action of the Cairo agenda".

The programme, which ended in October 2008, provided sexual and reproductive health services and commodities to the most vulnerable and underserved people in 22 ACP countries. It was implemented in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).

IPPF provided assistance through NGO clinics and youth centres as well as newly created mobile clinics in 13 countries. More than 1.6 million people received sexual and reproductive health services and some 750 professional staff as well as 3,400 volunteers were trained. This assistance was supplemented by public awareness-raising initiatives and advocacy vis-à-vis politicians and policy makers.

UNFPA's efforts focussed on supporting government structures in the formulation and implementation of reproductive health policies and on awareness-raising. More than 8,700 medical teams and 21,500 non-health professionals were trained on sexual and reproductive health topics boosting the capacity in reproductive health among health care workers in 10 countries. Support was also given to the development and adoption of more than 30 national laws, strategic policy documents and plans of action, protocols, norms and guidelines.

The workshop, from 14-15 October, will bring together representatives of the 22 ACP countries concerned, including national authorities and local beneficiaries as well as representatives of IPPF, UNFPA, the European Commission and other interested organisations. It will present an opportunity to share experience, for example how to reach young people through youth-friendly services, how to reach refugees as well as people living in remote areas and how to improve the services through the training of staff and volunteers.

The workshop also intends to draw-up recommendations for future activities with the aim to accelerate joint efforts to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health services.

Background:

The Sexual and Reproductive Health EC/ACP/UNFPA/IPPF Joint Programme was developed in line with the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000 and revised in Luxembourg on 25 June 2005 to promote the development of a common strategic approach to poverty reduction, consistent with the objectives of sustainable development and the gradual integration of ACP countries into the world economy. Priorities for the years 2007-2013 are to continue support for the social sectors through macroeconomic budget support or direct health and education involvement.

Co-operation with the countries began in 2003 after an agreement with the ACP Group of States to strengthen its contribution in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The European Union is committed to achieve the Millennium Development Goal target regarding universal access to reproductive health as well as the 2010 milestone to have 35 million more births attended by skilled health personnel each year.

Presentation of cooperation results and interview opportunity:

When: Thursday 15 October 2009, 10.30 a.m.

Where: Centre ALBERT BORSCHETTE, Rue Froissart 36, 1000 Brussels, room AB-0D

What: Presentation of workshop conclusions and recommendations; opportunity for bilateral interviews with ministers from ACP countries and beneficiaries

Who: High-level representatives and key decision makers from the European Commission, UNFPA, IPPF, ACP Secretariat, ACP countries' national authorities, donor governments as well as beneficiaries

1 :

Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Jamaica, Niger, Rwanda, Surinam, Tanzania, Congo, Dominican Republic, Gambia, Haiti, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritania, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tuvalu, and Zambia.


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