May 26, 2024

Sweden pours $42 million towards sexual and reproductive health in East and Southern Africa

Sweden pours $42 million towards sexual and reproductive health in East and Southern Africa

Jacques Klaimer in South Africa

Sweden has committed an additional $42 million towards improving sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in East and Southern Africa, aiming to positively impact the lives of a significant number of individuals in the region. The Sweden’s SRHR in Africa 2022-2026 strategy is providing the necessary financial resources for the cause.

The investment aims to strengthen the ongoing endeavors of four UN agencies, namely UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, and WHO, in assisting East and Southern African countries and regions to curtail maternal death rates related to unsafe abortion, HIV and STIs, lack of access to birth control, and GBV. Sweden has committed a total of $99 million towards investment since the year 2018.

“We are proud that, as four UN agencies working together, we have created a regional movement of government, civil society and development partners committed to improving the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all people in East and Southern Africa, using an integrated approach. This investment by Sweden will enable this partnership to conclude the unfinished business and to fast track the realization of the SRHR targets of the Sustainable Development Goals,” said UNAIDS Regional Director Anne Githuku-Shongwe, UNFPA Regional Director Lydia Zigomo, UNICEF Regional Director Mohamed Fall and WHO Regional Director Dr. Matshidiso Moeti.

Although some advances have been achieved, it is improbable that the area will achieve comprehensive availability of SRHR by 2030 without a coordinated endeavor. Numerous expectant mothers in the area perish due to avoidable factors. 20% of women in the area who require contemporary methods of birth control are not utilizing them. This includes young women and adolescents, who experience the most significant demand for such contraception options. Consequently, the occurrence of premature and unintended pregnancies is high.

In terms of sexual and reproductive health, HIV continues to be the most significant danger, as almost 670,000 fresh HIV cases were reported in the region in 2021, with approximately a quarter of them affecting adolescents and young women. By the time they reach 19, approximately 16% of teenage girls and young women will have been subjected to Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

Despite ongoing efforts, obstacles such as structural, social, and healthcare-related barriers continue to impede progress. The presence of restrictive legislations and policies, as well as adherence to traditional and cultural practices, can lead to the emergence of negative attitudes and prejudices that curtail an individual’s capacity to assert their sexual and reproductive freedoms.

The lack of sufficient domestic funding for health, deficient infrastructure, shortages of essential supplies, and an insufficient number of skilled personnel significantly impair the health outcomes of individuals in the region. As a consequence of climate change, socio-economic and geo-political instabilities, numerous nations are growing more susceptible to experiencing humanitarian emergencies. Unfortunately, their health care systems are ill-equipped to handle such crises.

Sweden’s steadfast backing will facilitate the rapid advancement of the 2gether 4 SRHR Initiative’s endeavors to attain comprehensive availability of sexual and reproductive health and rights services. By endorsing legislations and strategies that authorize individuals to practice their sexual and reproductive privileges, and guaranteeing their aptitude to obtain high-grade, combined, and individual-oriented SRHR amenities that fulfill their necessities, even in challenging situations. Through a comprehensive strategy for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), the societal and cultural beliefs that lead to prejudices and prejudice affecting individuals’ rights, physical health and overall wellness will be detected and addressed.

The 2gether 4 SRHR Programme has received $57 million in funding from Sweden during the last four years. This investment has assisted local and national collaborators in creating regulations, guidelines, and plans, and championed for higher domestic investments in sexual and reproductive health and rights. If these investments come to fruition, the young population in the region – which consists of 633 million individuals – will have the opportunity to exercise their bodily autonomy, make informed choices about their reproductive decisions, reach their full potential, and contribute to the economic and social growth of the area.

The initiative extended its aid to the East African and Southern African Development Community in formulating SRHR frameworks that are consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in devising scorecards. The region can track their advancement towards SDGs through the use of scorecards, which also function as an alert mechanism for identifying areas that require attention and are falling behind.