UN pledges support for reproductive health agenda in Africa

The United Nations will support African governments to expand access to quality and affordable reproductive health services for disadvantaged groups like women and girls living in urban slums, officials said on Wednesday.

Dereje Wordofa, the Deputy Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), said this in a speech read on his behalf by Hala Youssef, a UNFPA policy expert.

Wordofa said that promoting access to reproductive health services like contraceptives was key to tackling poverty and inequality in Africa.

“We need to invest in high impact interventions that are key to expand access to reproductive health services to socially and economically disadvantaged women and youth in Africa,” Wordofa said in the speech.

He said that multilateral lenders would support targeted interventions like policy reforms, increased financing and public awareness to boost uptake of contraceptives in Africa’s low-income urban settlements.

“Poor access to reproductive health services and information is very acute in the informal urban settlements hence the need for urgent redress to help save the lives of women and girls,” Wordofa said.

Kenya is hosting a week-long Pan-African conference on advancing the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls in urban informal settlements.

No fewer than 500 delegates, including lawmakers, policymakers, researchers and campaigners, attending the Feb. 10 to Feb. 14 conference will share knowledge and best practices aimed at revitalising the reproductive health agenda in the continent.

Topics slated for discussion at the conference include the unmet need for modern family planning methods, unsafe abortions, sexual violence and unintended pregnancies that are rampant in Africa’s urban slums.

Ademola Olajide, UNFPA Kenya Country Representative, said improving access to contraceptives is key to reducing poverty, maternal deaths and economic marginalization affecting women and girls living in urban slums across the sub-Saharan African region.

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