In a step intended to contribute to and enhance the achievements of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations Population Fund Arab States (UNFPA ASRO), and Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Offices (UNFPA EECARO) launched a significant partnership with the European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health (ESC).
According to the UN experts, the latest partnership will support and enhance the achievements of the SDGs by improving the universal access to quality reproductive health and promoting reproductive rights as stated in the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action.
During a virtual meeting that has been implemented for all these organizations, the UNFPA Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Alanna Armitage said: “The Eastern Europe and Central Asia region has seen significant achievements in implementing the ICPD Programme of Action. Still, challenges persist, and we see countries in the region lagging behind. Eight countries of the EECA region still have a high rate of unmet need for family planning, with modern contraceptive prevalence rates below 28%.”
“We are confident that this partnership will help accelerate the progress in Eastern Europe’s territory and Central Asia region,” Armitage pointed out.
As part of the initiative, parties will work to promote all types of research in sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights to ensure that the policy advocacy, guidance, capacity building and education provided are based on the best evidence and needs in the countries, according to a joint statement released by UNFPA and ESC.
On her part, Dr. Luay Shabaneh, UNFPA ASRO Regional Director, said: “The Arab region is home to more than 400 million people, 28 percent of whom are young men and women under the age of 30. The fertility rate in the region is 3.5 children per woman compared to 2.5 globally. Such partnerships are crucial to ensure that people, including women, youth, adolescents and persons with disabilities, have access to sexual and reproductive health and enjoy their reproductive rights.”
”Migration and other transboundary issues make this strategic partnership very timely in bringing together different regions and different expertise to ensure that women and girls have access to quality sexual and reproductive health services and the opportunity to fulfill their potential,” added Dr. Shabaneh.
The cooperation also aims to support enhancing individual’s and couple’s choices of contraception, awareness of preconception health, and sexual relations that are safe and free from coercion in order to further universal access to comprehensive sexuality education and youth development for improved quality of life.
“The Memorandum of understanding is just the start of a new and exciting partnership where both professional bodies will provide support and expertise to each other with the aim of making reproductive health choices a reality. The long-term goals will ensure the health of women and that they can achieve their full potential through education,” Dr. Short revealed.
Through this agreement, parties will provide capacity-building training to service providers and stakeholders tailored to respond to the national priority needs of countries.
It’s worth noting that this new partnership between ESC and UNFPA Arab States and Eastern Europe and Central Asia regional offices creates a strategic opportunity to collectively support the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls across different contexts and regions.
In addition to this, it’s expected that these organizations will encourage the domestic governments to expedite the implementation of this initiative and look forward to receiving more detailed information on its functioning in a future submission.