African experts urge South-South cooperation to promote reproductive health

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NAIROBI, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Experts from the eastern African region on Tuesday called for the strengthening of South-South cooperation in order to improve reproductive health services.

The experts, who spoke at a forum in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, underscored the critical role of regional cooperation in policy formulation and funding as a means to boost reproductive health outcomes.

The experts from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi said the morbidity and mortality levels, especially of children and women, remain unacceptably high.

"There is a need for countries in the Global South with similar challenges to share and mainstream approaches that work for them," said Mohamed Sheikh, director general at the National Council for Population and Development of Kenya, during the 13th Eastern African Reproductive Health Network Coordination Meeting.

Sheikh observed that women, in particular, face increased health risks from teenage and unplanned pregnancies and limited birth spacing, hence the need to provide them with quality reproductive health services.

Jotham Musinguzi, the director-general of the National Population Council of Uganda, urged governments in the region to consider increasing funding to help strengthen policies on reproductive health. Musinguzi noted that East African nations currently have weak policies that have led to low budgetary allocations toward reproductive health, adding that the solution lies with strengthened South-South cooperation.

Rose Oronje, director of Policy and Knowledge Translation at the African Institute for Development Policy, observed that countries in the eastern African region have enacted policies that promote access to quality reproductive health services.

Oronje said there is an urgent need to provide relevant information for women, girls, and adolescents on matters regarding reproductive health. She added that the relationship between health, population, and climate change dynamics provides a solid platform for developing more effective and sustainable solutions to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

During the Nairobi forum, the experts urged governments to mainstream voluntary family planning and reproductive health in national policies and strategies. They pledged to develop actionable annual country-specific work plans and build member capacity through strengthened South-South cooperation for the attainment of UHC and the SDGs in the region.

The experts will also explore ways to increase domestic investments and effective utilization of resources for health with a focus on primary health care, as well as maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health in the region. Enditem

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