Global leaders celebrate Afghanistan for new initiative in reproductive health
By Ghanizada - Tue May 20 2014, 11:24 am
Today the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health (GLC) honors the government of Afghanistan with a Resolve Award Special Mention for their leadership in expanding access to essential reproductive health services. The Honorable Dr. Suraya Dalil,Minister of Public Health of Afghanistan, will accept the award at a ceremony celebrating the Resolve Award recipients during the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Special Mention recognizes Afghanistan’s efforts to prioritize reproductive, maternal and child health. The Ministry of Public Health has worked to engage other Ministries, Parliamentarians, community and religious leaders to increase their attention to women’s reproductive health needs.
Health facilities with few resources and few trained female medical staff contribute to high maternal mortality rates. The Ministry of Public Health is devoting financial and technical resources to improve delivery and quality of reproductive health services. The Ministry has also outlined a new Reproductive Health Strategy and Policy, which has been approved for implementation.
The new strategy seeks to strengthen education efforts in schools. The Ministry of Public Health is working with the Ministry of Education to incorporate reproductive health training in school curricula. In informal educational settings, some religious leaders are raising awareness about reproductive health as a result of government outreach.
“Mullahs’ wives have trained as health education champions who teach in their homes to raise issues of sexual and reproductive health and family planning for women,” said Dr. Fatima Noorzada of the non-governmental organization, Marie Stopes International Afghanistan. “They refer clients to health centers, and dayby day, the numbers of women coming [to the health centers] is increasing.”
The growing government commitment to reproductive health is also visible in parliament; an increasing number of parliamentarians are drawing attention to the importance of addressing reproductive health needs of women. Anew cross-party Reproductive Health Caucus is working to build understanding and commitment to reproductive health across government sectors.
The GLC is a group of sixteen sitting and former heads of state, high-levelpolicymakers and other leaderswho build political leadership for increased financial and technicalsupport for reproductive health.The GLC selects Resolve Award recipients through a competitive global nominations process. In addition to Afghanistan, other countries recognized by the Resolve Award include Cambodia, Peru, and Tanzania.
The Award will be presented by Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro, President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, GLC member,and global champion for women and girls,at a public ceremony held at Domaine de Penthes.
“Afghanistan and other Resolve Award winners can inspire other countries,” says Dr.Kanyoro. “Their work recognizes that reproductive health is connected to a broad range of development objectives, including education, livelihoods, and security. By engaging multiple sectors in strategies that meet the needs of young people, including their reproductive health needs, this year’s award winners exemplify innovative models for development.”
As the global conversation shifts to the priorities that the post-2015 development agenda will hold, these leaders are pointing the way forward.“The Resolve Award winners show us the importance of universal access to reproductive health and rights, and effective strategies for making progress toward that goal,” says Dr. Kanyoro.
The Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, established by The Aspen Institute in 2010, is composed of sixteen sitting and former heads of state, high-level policymakers and other leaders who build political leadership for increased financial and technical support for reproductive health. The Council works to revitalize political commitments to reproductive health by increasing awareness of reproductive health issues, supporting the effective use of donor resources, and championing policies dedicated to achieving universal access to reproductive health.
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on theWye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners.