Minister for Public Health Opens All-Africa Workshop in Mombasa

  • 12 November 2001

Mombasa, Kenya - Kenya's Minister for Public Health, Hon. Sam K. Ongeri, today opened a workshop attended by health experts from all over Africa. The aim of the workshop, organised by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is reproductive health commodity security – ensuring that every person in Africa has the means to plan their families and protect themselves from HIV/AIDS. The Minister was accompanied by Permanent Secretary Prof. Julius Meme.

"The challenge for developing countries including Kenya is to become self-sufficient in reproductive health care," said Prof Ongeri, a challenge made even harder by a difficult macro-economic environment and by demand for reproductive health commodities, which is expected to increase by 40 per cent worldwide by 2015. He stressed the need for constructive partnerships.

"In 1999, donors provided around four condoms per adult male in sub-Saharan Africa. This is hardly reassuring," said Dr Nicholas Dodd, of the United Nations Population Fund, giving the keynote address. Dr Dodd pointed out that 180 women every day become pregnant unintentionally, and 10 people a minute are infected with HIV.

Attending the meeting are health officials from 10 countries and UNFPA representatives from 17 countries, together with representatives from the World Bank, WHO and international NGOs John Snow International and Management Services for Health. Also attending are logistics experts from UNFPA regional teams in Africa and Asia. The workshop, at the Nyali Beach Hotel in Mombasa, officially called the Reproductive Health Commodity Security Workshop, runs from 12-16 November.

"This is a priority for the health of everyone in Africa," said Patrick Friel of UNFPA, director of the workshop. "We are building an international team to help Africa meet its needs for contraceptives and other reproductive health commodities. We hope to raise countries' awareness of the need to mobilise their resources, human, technical and financial, for this purpose."

Dr Friel said the workshop would help UNFPA and its partners clarify the technical issues such as assessing needs, raising funds, procurement (obtaining the supplies), logistics (getting supplies where they are needed), and building national capacity in all these areas. Also to be addressed are such issues as responding to emergencies and advocacy for reproductive health commodity security. A key aim was to build strong partnerships among governments, international organisations, and NGOs to ensure that the needs could be met.

Africa's population is 812 million, and is expected to top 2 billion by 2050. An average woman has five children, and fewer than half of all births are attended by a health professional. Only 20 per cent of couples use modern methods of family planning.

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UNFPA is the world's largest multilateral source of population assistance. Since it became operational in 1969, it has provided more than $5 billion to developing countries to meet reproductive health needs and support sustainable development efforts.

Contact Information:

William A. Ryan
Tel.: +66 2 288 2446

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