The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has announced it will support programmes in eight African countries over the next three years to boost access to reproductive health services for millions of adolescent girls.
“We are working specifically to ensure that the continent’s adolescent girls, between the ages of 15 and 19 – some 45 million of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa – get a good education, are able to decide whether and when to marry and have children, are protected from HIV, remain safe from violence, and have their fair share of opportunities to work and contribute to the economic development of their countries,” said UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin.
The announcement came on Friday at the International Conference on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Africa, held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
UNFPA will partner with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, and Tanzania over the next three years to deliver a comprehensive set of sexual and reproductive health services for young people to reach disadvantaged and marginalized girls and young women – the ones at highest risk of poor sexual and reproductive health, violence and exploitation.
“Over the next three years, in partnership with governments and young people themselves, we will commit to making a tangible difference in the lives of millions of young people right across the continent. It is their rights we must uphold and it is they who are our best hope for a prosperous and peaceful Africa,” said Dr. Osotimehin.
According to UNFPA, pregnancy and childbirth-related complications are a leading cause of death of girls, aged 15 to 19, in developing countries. An estimated 7.3 million girls under age 18 give birth each year, a great percentage of which occurs in Africa.
The agency, among other measures, will establish programmes to ensure that young people in and out of school have access to age-appropriate comprehensive sexual education to prepare them for adult life.
UNFPA is the lead UN agency working to promote the sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights of young people.
It is at work in over 150 countries, ensuring that young people have the information, services and supplies they need to make a safe, healthy and fulfilling transition from adolescence to adulthood.
(Source: UN News Centre)