Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States have remained firm and ensured continuity of health care services in sexual and reproductive health and rights even when focus in the health sector was mainly on COVID-19, Minister of Health for the Republic of Malawi, Honourable Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, has said.
Hon. Chiponda said this when delivering remarks at the launch of the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights SADC Scorecard (SRHR) on 10th November 2021 in Lilongwe, Malawi.
She noted that the Region continues to struggle to make rapid progress in the area of SRHR. Hon. Chiponda said integration, joint leadership and accountability are key ingredients to ensure progress in the area of SRHR. She urged Member States to enhance peer-to-peer integration to commit more resources on the areas that need further acceleration. She encouraged Member States to ensure zero child marriage, zero maternal deaths and zero Gender Based Violence (GBV).
SADC Executive Secretary, His Excellency Mr Elias Mpedi Magosi highlighted that as the scorecard was being launched, there had already been noticeable progress in a number of indicators including the percentage reduction in new HIV and AIDS infections; Mother to Child Transmission Rate; Adolescents birth rate, as well as in the indicators related to comprehensive sexuality education and life skills. He said the development is a good sign that the scorecard is actually tracking the right metrics, and thus should potentially give the information needed for decision-making.
The Executive Secretary said there are still areas where particular attention is required if the Region is to meet the overall targets set in the scorecard and those espoused within the Sustainable Development Goals. He said these include the high level of GBV, high maternal mortality rates, as well as the stagnant budget resource allocation in Member States.
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Deputy Regional Director Ms. Beatrice Mutali called for the need to re-double efforts to address the unmet need for contraceptives and maternal deaths, including those related to unsafe abortion. She regretted that many women in the Region were dying during childbirth from causes that were entirely preventable. Ms. Mutali emphasised on the need for the stakeholders to engage to address preventable maternal deaths.
She reiterated United Nations commitment to continue to collaborate with the SADC Secretariat and Member States to harness the collective energy generated through the development of the scorecard to continue working together in advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights within the Region.
The SRHR SADC Scorecard is a high-level peer review accountability tool to track progress of the Region in achieving the SADC Regional Strategy for SRHR 2019-2030 and the SRHR targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. It consists of 20 key indicators to track progress in meeting the 10 outcomes of the strategy. Member States are to report every two years on progress made against the SADC Scorecard.