NUSA DUAL, BALI
Youth representatives from Kenya are among groups and individuals attending an international conference on family planning which opens Monday in Nusa Dua, Indonesia.
The forum brings global health experts, researchers, policy makers, rights campaigners and media, with President Joko Widodo of Indonesia as the guest speaker.
Kenya has a big presence at the high level conference with individual and group presentations from health professionals and youth representatives.
An estimated 350 young people are attending the conference in which the youth form a key focus.
On Wednesday, Vidalyne Omollo and Nixon Otieno from Nairobi’s Centre of Study for Adolescence are set to make a presentation on uptake of contraception among the youth aged between 10-24 years from Kenya, and the lessons learnt, based on a programme known as ‘Youth for Youth.’
Organisers of the four-day conference say the forum is critical as it comes at a time when the world is rallying around the new global development agenda which places a lot of importance on family planning.
The organisers hope that by the end of the conference, the forum will agree on ways of ensuring that family planning is available to women and girls as the world seeks to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“In the past three years, we have made enormous strides.
“Family planning programmes and contraceptive services are getting to millions of women and girls who have not had access before, including the poorest, the most vulnerable and the hardest to reach," says Babatunde Osotimehin, the executive director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFP) and Dr Chris Elias, president of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
FAMILY PLANNING 2020
However, the two leaders say even as they head to the half-way mark in achieving the Family Planning 2020 goal, the pace of growth has not matched their projections as they seek to help women and girls to plan their lives and families.
"We must act together with urgency to fulfil our promise to millions of women and girls who want the chance to shape their own lives and destiny,” they said in a communication to participants ahead of the official opening.
"As we approach the half-way mark to our 2020 goal, we are faced with a shortfall we cannot ignore.
“We must step forward and reinvigorate our commitment to the movement in bold, meaningful, and measurable ways,” they added.
Ms Beth Schlater, says an unprecedented 290.6 million people from 69 of the world's poorest countries are now able to access family planning services.
This is an increase of 24.4 million since 2012, she said on Sunday while speaking in meeting with a group of women journalists from Africa and Asia.
The increase followed a 2012 summit in London where stakeholders promised to ensure contraceptive services reach an additional 120 million women and girls by 2020, internationally.
"Our task is ambitious, but achievable," Ms Schlater said.
"We know more now than we did three years ago and have data and on-the-ground experience to show what works and what doesn't."
She added: "through this global partnership, we have learned that we can make an enormous difference, but we must work together to empower women and girls to plan their own lives and futures. It is a promise we made three years ago at the London summit, and it is one worth keeping."
She singled out procurement hurdles and challenges of devolution in some countries as some of the obstacles in ensuring access to family planning services.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged to increase its financial commitment by 25 per cent over the next three years.
Marie Stopes International and Jhpiego are among donors who have also pledged to renew their support to family planning.
The foundation is among the main sponsor of the conference, organised around the theme of ‘Global action, local commitment’, and which closes on January 28, 2016.