KAMPALA, December 19 2018 – There is an urgent need to improve family planning services in Africa, where more than 47 million women, who wish to stop or delay pregnancies have limited access to contraception. A five-day meeting on strengthening family planning services in, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Uganda began on 17th December 2018 in Kampala. It is organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health of Uganda, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The meeting is taking place to review a three-year programme called, "Strategic Technical Engagement with Evidence of Results (Af-STEER) in Africa: A Regional Platform to Strengthen the Performance of Family Planning Programmes in African Countries". The initiative, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation began in 2017 and focuses on vulnerable populations, adolescent girls and women.
At the opening of the meeting, the WHO Representative in Uganda noted that unwanted pregnancies remain a problem that threatens the lives and well-being of women and girls, their families and the community as a whole. “This huge unmet need for family planning contributes to neonatal, infant and maternal mortality and reduces educational and economic opportunities and household incomes. Family planning is a vital life-saving intervention”, he says.
Director of Health Services (Clinical & Community) at Uganda’s Ministry of Health, Dr Charles Olaro, noted that adolescents remain vulnerable due to unwanted pregnancies. He said that the dangers that arise from unwanted pregnancies are fatal and can lead to disability. He thus commended WHO for the initiative promising Uganda’s commitment to strengthening family planning services.
During the meeting, countries participants will be updated on expanding information and access to age-appropriate information and voluntary family planning services and contraception for adolescents and young people and are an opportunity for the participants to strengthen their knowledge. The meeting will enable health authorities and other implementers to refine their planning for 2019 and have a more holistic approach to family planning activities.
The meeting’s 40 participants include representatives from the Ministry of Health, obstetricians, gynaecologists, and midwives; family planning experts from the WHO, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), JhPiego an international non-governmental organization and other implementing partners. They will review the progress made so far, identify opportunities and challenges, and agree on the main priority activities to be undertaken in 2019.
Almost 1 in 4 women in the African region are unable to access family planning services and the region has the lowest contraceptive usage rate in the world.
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