Reducing UNFPA funding is a setback to health goals

Tuesday April 11 2017

From July 10 to 19 representatives of different UN member States will gather in New York for a forum on sustainable development. Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world will be the theme.

The UN High-level political Forum on Sustainable Development will be used to identify gaps in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals which replaced the Millennium Development Goals and which are to be realised by 2030.

One of the sustainable development goals is to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for people of all ages.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has played a key role in reducing maternal mortality and morbidity. Therefore, a move by the US to reduce funding for UNFPA will not only affect the health of women and children but is also a set back to the realisation of the goals.

Good health and well-being are achieved through psychosocial support for survivors of sexual and gender based violence as well as support to people who have HIV and the disabled.

SAFE DELIVERY

Good health also incorporates access to safe delivery, adequate health workers within health facilities, access to reproductive health information and services and access to maternal health services.

With reduced funding for the UNFPA, reproductive health services remain compromised.

There may be increased cases of unsafe abortion due to inadequate information, inadequate family planning services due to inaccessibility to contraceptives, increased cases of teenage pregnancy and more HIV infections.

Since UNFPA also invests in training communities on livelihood skills, there are fears that poverty levels may increase. The decision by President Donald Trump to cut funding for the UNFPA requires several approaches for countries to achieve their goals.

VAST RESOURCES

First, countries must endeavour to be self-reliant. Africa, particularly, must take advantage of the vast resources at its disposal, agriculture, minerals and the oil deposits. Secondly, is increased advocacy on reproductive health services.

The magnitude of unsafe abortions and HIV particularly among adolescents must be brought to the attention of all stakeholders including donors.

Thirdly, countries must develop political goodwill in implementing policies they put in place including the development goals.

Fourthly, we must strengthen our health systems from the community to national level through increased financial allocations to health and by training and motivating specialised health workers.

Finally, we must ensure all interventions are evidence based and we must also learn from the past. What the best practices are, what the alternative sources of funding are and how well the target beneficiaries respond to health interventions we develop.


DANIEL OTIENO, Nairobi