WINDHOEK: President Hifikepunye Pohamba has called on African experts, academics, activists and the youth to assess how the continent has fared in addressing issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights with a view to identifying the areas where improvements are required.
Speaking during the opening of the four-day 5th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights at a local hotel on Wednesday, Pohamba said these challenges should be analysed thoroughly in order to devise better mechanisms that will help policy-makers plan better.
“This will go a long way towards making Africa a continent where sexual rights are understood and adequate education is provided to help reshape our understanding, while building a shared sense of responsibility,” he noted.
The Head of State said African countries should ensure that the policy interventions that are in place have the desired impact on the targeted communities.
It is a source of great concern that statistics continue to indicate that Africa remains the hardest-hit region with respect to HIV/AIDS prevalence, high maternal and child mortality and teenage pregnancies.
Pohamba stressed that these challenges thus need immediate attention, and Africa should harness the resources that the continent is endowed with to provide the care that African women and girls need in the areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
“I am aware that significant resources have been received from our development cooperation partners and other organisations to fund programmes and projects in the promotion of sexual and reproductive health,” he stated.
These funds should be used prudently at all times to ensure that services and interventions do reach the people and the communities who really need them, urged the Namibian leader.
The provision of family planning services in Africa has also been hindered by poverty, limited access to services and information materials, conflicts, the poor coordination of programmes and dwindling funding.
The lack of information and awareness on these issues has, more than not, resulted in unplanned pregnancies, especially among the youth.
More than 200 participants from 40 African countries are attending the conference, which ends on Saturday.