Reproductive health, youth policies and development are in need of re-energising according to Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Under Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Osotimehin, who was speaking in Cairo, in collaboration with the Ministry of Planning, also said that female empowerment is also critical.
The UN official also announced a new collaboration with the Egyptian government featuring policies aimed at reproductive health, family planning, and social economic development.
The strategy, set out by Egypt’s Ministry of Planning, would stretch over a 15-year period, from 2015 to 2030. It would be divided into 12 major focal points including: access to education, social justice, transparency, efficiency of government intuitions, urban development, culture, and public health.
Osotemehin emphasised the importance of passing adequate information to young people as they grow from infancy to adulthood, “teaching young people to take responsibility for life skills development and teaching young people to take responsibilities for their decisions”.
He added that it was necessary to train people to deliver information on family planning supplies, because “30% of women would remove family planning commodities after a year”.
The UNFPA offers assistance to developing countries for population assistance, HIV and AIDS prevention, gender equality promotion, emergency assistance, and adolescent and youth support. However, Ostemhin did mention that a hurdle would be obtaining adequate resources for the new strategy.
“To make sure services could be offered free of charge, along with social protection, there would be the need for human resources, a proper chain management system for health supplies, and a good management system for money services,” he said. “Women must have access credit capital family planning.”
To coordinate efforts, he held a series of meetings over a two-day period with high officials, ambassadors, representatives from the international community, civil society organisations, the private sector and representatives of national institution. The meetings were to “discuss ways to mobilise this political platform for addressing the different challenges and needs in the Arab States region, explore best means of advancing the population agenda, and strengthen humanitarian response efforts in the region,” a UNFPA statement said.
The meetings included dialogues with Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb, Minister of Health Adel El-Adawi, Minister of Planning Ashraf El-Araby, and business tycoon Naguib Sawiris.
Osotimehin also added that an outreach programme must be conscious of the cultural context working in different areas and the UNFPA would be working with civil society and religious leaders also.
“We have to work with every stake holder so girls go to school,” he said.