“Unfinished Business: the pursuit of rights and choices FOR ALL”- UNFPA Speaks
In marking the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) at 50 and the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25), Mr. Dereje Wordofa - UN Assistant Secretary General/ UNFPA Deputy Executive Director Programme visited Sierra Leone together with Mr. Mabingue Ngom - UNFPA Regional Director to learn more about the important work the country office is doing to end maternal deaths, unmet need for family planning, gender-based violence and harmful practices including FGM and child marriage.
The global ICPD25 flagship event is The Nairobi Summit on ICPD – Accelerating the promise, when governments and stakeholders will gather in Kenya from the 12 – 14 November 2019. The summit will be convened by the Government of Kenya, the Government of Denmark and UNFPA. The objectives of the Nairobi Summit are to: obtain strong political commitment for the validity of the Cairo ICPD agenda; create political and financial momentum to advance the ICPD agenda; and provide an inclusive platform for a broad range of Member States and other stakeholders to come together around the universally applicable principle of rights and choices for all.
At a Press Conference held on Friday 21st June 2019 at the UNFPA country office at New Signal Hill Road in Freetown, Mr. Dereje Wordofa highlighted to journalists a synopsis of his visit to Sierra Leone.
Meeting with President Julius Maada Bio, he congratulated him on his declaration to combating gender-based violence, government’s positive strides in minimizing the maternal mortality rate and reinforced UNFPA’s continued commitment in enhancing reproductive health and rights towards sustainable development; he admired the strive of the Office of the First Lady in fighting sexual harassment, penetration and rape; visited, together with the Health Minister, the newly completed Rokupa Government Hospital which is constructed with support from UNFPA; held meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation whom he referred as a former colleague; and visited the Aberdeen Women Centre to meet with fistula patients and hear their stories; and subsequently launched UNFPA State of World Population 2019.
Sierra Leone has made remarkable gains in the last few decades: the maternal mortality ratio has come down from 2,630 (1990) to 1,360 (2015), the total fertility rate has decreased from 5.1 (2008) to 4.9 (2013), Adolescent fertility rate decreased from 146/1000 women aged 15-19 years to 125/1000 women in 2013, the child bearing has decreased from 34 per cent in women aged 15-19 years (2008) to 28 per cent (2013), the modern contraceptive prevalence rate has gone up from 7 per cent (2008) to 16 per cent (2013), and unmet need for family planning has dropped from 28 per cent (2003) to 25 per cent (2013). (2015 WHO/UNFPA MMEIG)
Despite the remarkable progress, UNFPA says millions of women and girls in Sierra Leone still cannot exercise their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Every year, thousands of women die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Many more suffer from injuries and chronic disability including obstetric fistula incurred during childbirth. This is a long way from the global target set in 1994 to reduce maternal deaths to fewer than 75 per 100,000 live births, and the Agenda 2030 target of 70. In Sierra Leone, 1,360 mothers die for every 100,000 births; a UNFPA report stated.
As the global custodian of the ICPD, UNFPA continues to work for its full implementation and will leverage this momentum to mobilize political and financial support, further galvanize partnership, search for new solutions and secure a consensus package on how to implement its Programme of Action.
And to fulfil the promise of ICPD in Sierra Leone, concrete commitments are needed by the Government, donors and NGOs as the ICPD25 anniversary reminds nations of the readiness to re-energize the movement to complete the unfinished business of Cairo.