Samia, Mwinyi win development partners’ hearts

THE ongoing efforts by President Samia Suluhu Hassan and her Zanzibar’s counterpart, Dr Hussein Mwinyi to improve health sector to ensure all citizens have access to medical care has impressed development partners.

The two leaders have also earned plaudits from the ‘High-Level Commission on the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 Follow-up.’

This was said in Zanzibar over the weekend by the Commission Chair, Dr Jakaya Kikwete, who is also the former President of Tanzania, at the launch of a new report by the Commission.

The report elaborates and champions sexual and reproductive justice as a vehicle for delivering on people’s rights and choices.

The event which was also attended by President Mwinyi was organised by the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency- United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The co-chair of the commission is Michaëlle Jean, who is also the 27th Governor General of Canada. Other Members of the commission include former heads of state and grassroots activists and youths.

“We have been impressed by how the Union government and Zanzibar utilised the money from the IMF (International Monetary Fund) Covid-19 relief fund to improve health sector, including constructing health facilities in every district to bring medical care closer to the people,” Dr Kikwete said after the launch of the report.

While a lot has been done to improve access to health in the mainland, President Mwinyi directed the use of about 36bn/- from the Covid-19 relief fund to construct new hospitals in each of the 11 districts of Zanzibar.

Upon completion, all the facilities will be modern, as the Isles top leader also promises to increase health budget.

The current health budget is 8.3 per cent of Zanzibar’s national budget and that it targets to meet the ‘Abuja declaration on health’, which wants the African governments to have at least 15 per cent of their national budget directed to the health sector.

The Isles Health Minister Mr Nassor Ahmed Mazrui said the government is determined to hit the target and that the construction of the new facilities is almost over.

The report was submitted to Dr Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, UNFPA and United Nations Under Secretary-General representative, who praised ongoing efforts in Tanzania to transform health sector.

Dr Kanem urged nations, considering their environment, to do more in addressing different challenges in accessing health care and observing the rights of women and children, including right to education and taking leadership roles.

The High-Level Commission, established on 17 September 2020, is charged with keeping the 1,250 commitments to women’s health and rights made at the November 2019 Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 stay on track.

The commission will monitor and report on progress towards fulfilling the commitments, particularly those contained in the Nairobi Statement on ICPD25.

It will also make recommendations for removing bottlenecks, so that the sexual and reproductive health and rights of the community maintains its momentum towards a world of rights and choices for all.

The 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, where 179 governments adopted a landmark Programme of Action, which set out to empower women and girls for their sake, and for the benefit of their families, communities and nations.

From November 12-14 this year, the governments of Kenya and Denmark and UNFPA co-convened the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, a high-level conference to mobilise the political will and financial commitments urgently needed to finally and fully implement the ICPD Programme of Action.

These commitments were centred around achieving zero unmet need for family planning information and services, zero preventable maternal deaths, and zero sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls.

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