Sub-Saharan African countries should prioritize investments in programs that promote reproductive health of the youth amid their vulnerability to HIV and Aids, unintended pregnancies and risky abortions, campaigners said on Monday.
The campaigners who are meeting in Nairobi for a week-long forum said that robust financing towards family planning, safe abortion and HIV prevention are keys to boost overall health and productivity of Africa’s burgeoning youthful population.
“Governments and the private sector should devise innovative policy and financing models aimed at advancing reproductive health of vulnerable youth,” said Uwemedimo Esiet, convener of the ninth African Conference on Sexual Health and Rights (ACSHR).
Kenya is hosting a pan African conference to discuss novel ways to revitalize the reproductive health agenda of youth in resource-constrained settings like urban slums.
Senior policymakers, campaigners and researchers are attending the Feb. 10-14 conference that is a buildup of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD 25) held in Nairobi in November 2019.
Esiet said the conference will provide a platform for sharing knowledge and best practices that can be adopted to promote access to reproductive health services for vulnerable youth, women and girls.
“We should demand concrete actions like additional funding and enforcement of legislation from our duty bearers to ensure that youth in urban informal settlements realize their right to quality and affordable reproductive health services,” said Esiet.
He said the Nairobi forum will adopt a communique that will be presented to continental blocs to help inject fresh impetus towards the reproductive health agenda for vulnerable youth in Africa.
Gladys Kiio, programs manager of African Gender and Media Initiative (GEM), said that governments should address funding gaps that have derailed access to contraceptives among youth living in urban slums.
“There is an urgency to seal financing loopholes to ensure that family planning needs of urban youth of reproductive age are met,” said Kiio.
She urged governments to prioritize action on early marriages, gender-based violence and female genital mutilation that have worsened reproductive health challenges in urban slums and remote villages. Enditem