The annual Network of African Parliamentary Committees of Health (NEAPACOH) under the theme “Building the capacity of African policy makers for enhanced implementation of ICPD points of action and improved reproductive health outcomes” was held in Kampala at the prestigious Speke Resort Munyonyo from 30th to 31st of October. This conference is held annually and brings together parliamentarians, CSO members, public health experts and consultants and is for the purposes of sharing ideas and for a collective call to action.
This year’s edition saw delegates from all across the continent, from countries like Benin, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Seychelles, to mention but a few, with the main agenda of this engagement being acceleration the commitments made by their respective governments in regards to the upcoming ICPD 25 summit happening in Nairobi, Kenya, with notable figures like Hon. David Bahati, Uganda state minister for finance and planning, Marianne Haslegrave, director of Commonwealth Medical Trust, Hon. Rebecca A. Kadaga, speaker of parliament, parliament of Uganda, and so many more being on the guest list.
It was noted that all attending countries had agreed and committed to so many of the provisions at the Cairo summit in 1994, and with so many successes in regards to family planning and general healthcare coverage and wellbeing, but however there still exist serious gaps within the healthcare system for example to this date there are still deaths occurring from unsafe abortions, women still die during child birth and family planning and contraceptive delivery systems are still not fully effective. These and many more issues around universal health coverage were raised and debated upon with experts providing statistics which showed an overall decline but the numbers of deaths which are avoidable by the way were still too high and appalling in regards to teenage pregnancies, deaths due to unsafe abortion, deaths during child birth and new HIV infections.
Poverty was also cited as being the main contributing factor to many of these issues and the population of the continent is mostly young between the ages of 10 to 25 and is mostly unemployed and uneducated and thus heavily dependent on the small working adults. The delegates showed interest in breaking this bottleneck by committing to push for better family planning policies, sexuality education in schools, youth skilling and so many more.
Harnessing the potential of the continents youthful population dominated the two-day discussion and key recommendations were agreed upon in the end with the youth at heart, these included accelerate the implementation of the ICPD PoA and the SDGs by 2030, more commitment to efficient delivery of family planning services especially for young people, change in laws to make safe abortion a reality, strengthened cooperation between member states, and many more. These commitments were compiled into a position paper which was agreed upon by the attendees and they all promised to forward and push for the commitments in their home parliaments and countries.