Partners who attended the Expanded Technical Coordination Group (TCG) meeting on the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Ministerial Commitment on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and Adolescent and Youth-friendly Sexual Reproductive Health Services held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 17-18 May 2017 called for strategic resource mobilization to sustain implementation of the Commitment.
The meeting which attracted 85 participants from 18 countries, including representatives from Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Governments, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and United Nations agencies discussed funding mechanism at length and acknowledged the alternating trends in donor funding.
Speaking at the meeting, Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Secretariat representative, Dr. Vitalis Chipfakacha described the nature of most projects implemented in the region as a mainly donor funded and hence limiting local ownership. He emphasized the need to have domestic funding mechanisms and strengthening of existing ones to enable the sustenance of the ESA commitment.
The meeting also explored regional and country progress along with best practices towards increasing knowledge levels among young people in the ESA region, reducing new HIV infections, child marriages, teenage pregnancies and School-related gender-based violence.
In her welcoming remarks, the outgoing UNAIDS Director for Regional Support Team (RST) for Eastern and Southern Africa, Professor Sheila Tlou said there was a need to integrate sexuality education into the curriculum making the subject examinable and also ensuring youth friendly health services are accessible to adolescents and young people in their localities.
Countries deliberated on key issues posing as setbacks in the implementation of the ESA Commitment and planned for an accelerated implementation of the Commitment in the region. Some of the priority issues drawn include meaningful engagement of traditional leaders; increasing knowledge levels on HIV prevention among young people through capacity building of teachers in CSE; creating strong referral pathways between education and health facilities, and strengthening the internal coordination of the commitments at a country level.
The role of Civil Society Organisations in implementing the ESA Commitment was affirmed as they complement governments and UN agencies at regional and country level. The CSOs platform to be led by the African Youth and Adolescents Networking on Population and Development (AfriYAN) will draft an Operational Plan and conduct a regional mapping of lead organizations that will sit in-country coordination committees.
“It is always a good step to come back to the drawing board, take stock and refocus. This is the time to refocus and ensure the targets set in the commitment are met and our young people realize their full potential,” said Dr. Patricia Machawira, Regional HIV and Health Education Advisor for UNESCO.
The 2017 TCG meeting came at the backdrop of milestone achievements in the ESA Commitment, which include the reaffirmation of the commitment in 2016, mainstreaming of sexuality education into education curricula and reaching 25 million young people, parents and community members since 2013.
For more information on the Eastern and Southern Africa Ministerial Commitment on Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Adolescent and youth friendly Sexual Reproductive Health service provision visit: http://youngpeopletoday.net/the-commitment/