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Vanuatu: Improving access to reproductive health services

Vanuatu commits to improving better access to reproductive health services.

(Port Vila, Vanuatu) – After years of planning, the Vanuatu Government and stakeholders are ready to implement its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Acceleration Framework (MAF) Action Plan following the recent launch of the MAF Action Plan report. The MAF Action Plan will focus on improving reproductive health (MDG 5.B) with emphasis on reducing the adolescent birth rate (MDG Indicator 5.4), especially in rural areas, and reducing the unmet need for family planning (MDG Indicator 5.6).

This target was selected based on the criteria that is has the potential to achieve significant results within the next few years, has strong political and community support and has the catalytic potential to accelerate other MDGs targets that are also lagging behind. While reproductive health impacts all MDGs, the MDGs that are particularly related to improving access to modern contraception include: MDG 3: Promote gender equality and empower women; MDG4: Reduction in child mortality; MDG5: Improve maternal health; and MDG6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

According to Vanuatu National Statistics Office 2009 Census report and United Nations Children’s Fund report, the teenage fertility rate in urban cities is 40 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19, but it is much higher in rural areas (77 per 1,000) of which 76percent of the population live. Women’s education level and household wealth were strongly associated with use of modern contraceptives methods.

For Vanuatu, MDG target 5.B forms an integral part of the National Population Policy and addressing this specific target is a conduit among other priorities by the Government to consider the challenges in providing essential health services for the population that is projected to double within the next 30 years.

Launching the report, the Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Education, Honourable Bob Laughman said “while this is timely to address the development issues in relation to Vanuatu’s population dynamics, the MAF report is also handy and should be given an opportunity within the development platform, where collaboration among the development partners and key stakeholders as accountable agents is imminent to achieve the goals of improving universal access to reproductive health services in Vanuatu.”

Mr Laughman acknowledged the support received from the United Nations during the process of completing the report.

He reaffirmed the Government of Vanuatu’s commitment to the implementation of the MDGs Acceleration Action Plan andsaid he looked forward to working closely with the development partners and stakeholders to accelerate universal access to reproductive health throughout Vanuatu.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is providing support to the Government of Vanuatu to work with the various stakeholders including a number of Government ministries, non-governmental organizations and development partners to coordinate the implementation of the MAF action plan.

The MDGs Acceleration Framework is an innovative approach designed to help countries identify and resolve barriers to eradicating extreme poverty and achieving sustainable development. It provides a systematic way for countries to develop their own action plan based on existing plans and processes to pursue their MDGs priorities. It also helps governments to focus on disparities and inequalities, two of the major causes of uneven progress, by particularly responding to the needs of the vulnerable.

ENDS

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