Women’s rights in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean were discussed by representatives of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and ministries and health institutes of African countries. The group’s priority is to reduce maternal death and ensure sustainable development with equity.
Representatives of government entities and bodies met last week at Fiocruz headquarters in Rio de Janeiro to set priorities for themes and strategies for the next five years of the partnership. The institutions signed an agreement in July and this was the second planning workshop to implement the actions.
“I would like to reinforce my institutional commitment to this UNFPA agenda, which is to think about rights from the perspective of the populations. In the specific case of this workshop, women’s rights, for which we have a dedicated institute, ”said Fiocruz President Nísia Trindade Lima, referring to the National Institute of Women’s, Child and Adolescent Health Fernandes Figueiras, linked to the foundation.
Zero maternal deaths
At the first workshop held in August, the partnership’s priority had already been to reduce preventable maternal deaths to zero by 2030 in the participating countries.
“No woman should die simply by giving birth,” said UNFPA Senior Cross-Country Cooperation Advisor Bobby Olarte, speaking of the purpose of the partnership. He explained that the center seeks to harness FIOCRUZ’s knowledge in the area, through IFF-FIOCRUZ’s experience, to support countries. UNFPA’s proposal is to identify centers of excellence in the world and provide technical support for networking.
To achieve its goal the strategy aims to create a Reference Center for Maternal Health. The purpose is to analyze and build country capacity through the exchange of experience provided by the triangular cooperation between FIOCRUZ, Latin American and Caribbean and African countries, and UNFPA.
The choice for the challenge of reducing maternal mortality comes as much from the need of countries as from the observance of FIOCRUZ’s competences. In addition, this result is in line with the three zeros strategy for accelerating the implementation of the Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) action program: zero unmet need for contraception, zero preventable maternal deaths and zero situations of violence against women and girls
Contexts in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean
The countries present have very different contexts. While Cape Verde, for example, is a benchmark in women’s health, Guinea-Bissau presents health infrastructure challenges and very high maternal mortality, with 746 deaths per 100,000 women. At the meeting, representatives from Angola, Sao Tome and Principe, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and Senegal presented the national scenarios and challenges for reducing maternal deaths.
The interim representative of Brazil’s UNFPA office, Junia Quiroga, presented the data and challenges from Latin America and the Caribbean. The high number of cesarean sections, teenage pregnancy and the high medicalization of maternal health care are among the main challenges in the region.
“We have an average age for the first very young relationship in all of Latin America and the Caribbean and we are the second region in the world with the highest adolescent fertility rate,” Junia said while reinforcing the need to focus on young populations.
To address these issues, the partnership has identified staffing as its area of cooperation; the construction and strengthening of information, surveillance and monitoring systems; the search; and promoting community participation.
Despite the challenges, for the UNFPA representative, the partnership has been very promising, with the commitment of the experts and institutions involved. “Speed, agility, and engagement have been important features of this cooperation,” he said.
Development and Equity Agenda
The United Nations Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in 1994, resulted in an agenda-setting out a common commitment to achieving sustainable development with equity for all through the promotion of human rights and dignity, support for family planning, sexual and reproductive health and rights, promotion of gender equality, promotion of equal access to education for girls and the elimination of violence against women, among others.
To mark the 25th anniversary of this agenda, a summit will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, November 12-14. The president of FIOCRUZ will be present at the event and will take the results and commitments of the two workshops already held by the partnership UNFPA and FIOCRUZ.