Cablegate: Usaid and Unfpa Support National Conference On The


DE RUEHKI #1098/01 3510850
R 170850Z DEC 09





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: USAID has helped to pave the way for the repositioning
of Family Planning (FP) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(DRC), thus creating an opportunity for increased support to
capitalize on the present momentum to expand the FP activities in
the DRC. A December 8-9 National Conference to Reposition Family
Planning was successful in mobilizing stakeholders in support of
this important objective. Actions taken during 2009 respond to
USAID/ Washington's call for renewed efforts to reposition FP in
sub-Saharan Africa. End Summary.

2. A National Conference to Reposition Family Planning was
organized at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kinshasa on December
8-9, engaging key stakeholders to launch a recommitment to family
planning efforts in the DRC. The conference was the result of six
months of collaborative discussions led by USAID along with the
National Reproductive Health Program of the Ministry of Health,
Ministry of Gender, Family and Children, Ministry of Plan, UNFPA and
other key stakeholders, experts, cooperating agencies, civil society
organizations, and donor agencies. Over 150 key participants,
including government officials and dignitaries from all 11
provinces, participated, drawing widespread media attention.

3. The First Lady of the DRC, Madame Olive Lembe Kabila, officially
opened the conference. The U.S. Ambassador, Mr. William J.
Garvelink, the DRC Minister of Health, the Minister of Gender,
Family and Children, the Minister of Planning, the Director of the
National Reproductive Health Program, representative of the Governor
of Kinshasa, and the United Nations Population Fund DRC Country
Representative, Dr. Richard Dackam-Ngatchou, and Prof. Alois Nguma
Monganza of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Kinshasa all
strongly advocated for repositioning FP in the DRC.

4. The conference, a first step toward a long-term collaborative
plan of enhanced actions to reinvigorate family planning with
improved service delivery and increased financial assistance, closed
with strong pledges of engagement by, and a joint signing ceremony
with, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Gender, Family and
Children, Ministry of Plan and UNFPA, UNICEF and the World Health
Organization. Mme. Olive Lembe Kabila presided and reaffirmed the
country's need for family planning and for couples to use it.

5. During the first day of the conference, technical experts
presented salient information on the current situation in the DRC,
the critical need for family planning services, and strategies for
improving the delivery of family planning services in the country.
The second day, conducted largely through work groups, developed
recommendations and a plan of action to implement the program.

6. Considerable media attention focused on the conference. Such
public attention is greatly needed in the DRC. Family planning
needs are among the most critical. Reproductive and child health
indicators have deteriorated alarmingly over the last two decades.
The 2007 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) documented that 27% of
women in union (about 10 million) either want to space their next
birth or have no more births. However, only 7% use a modern method
compared to 16% in 1990. Maternal mortality is estimated at 549 per
100,000 live births. One out of 29 women dies of birthing related
causes. Infant mortality is estimated at 92/1,000 in the first year
and 148 for those under five.
Qand 148 for those under five.

7. The United Nations estimates that the population of DRC may
increase from 65 million to 300 million by 2050 if the current total
fertility rate (TFR) of 6.7 continues unchanged. By contrast, a
linear decrease of the TFR to 2.5 by 2050 would result in a total
population of 160 million by 2050. Achieving a 2.5 TRF by 2050 will
require a significant, widespread effort.

8. The three main resolutions adopted during the conference are: 1)
Reestablishment and revitalization of the FP technical steering
committee is essential as a permanent, standing, inter-governmental
and civil society entity responsible for FP/RH and population
advocacy, monitoring and awareness raising. This will be a
centerpiece of national efforts to bring cohesion, continuity and
coordination to heretofore largely scattered and frequently uneven
efforts to expand FP/RH programs and services. Assistance from
donor agencies' will be vital to ensure the effectiveness of this
committee as government agencies attempt to allocate increased
resources to FP/RH programs. 2) Development of a coordinated
cross-sectoral strategy and plan for expanded, integrated FP/RH
programs, as well as renewed population policies and programs that
will factor in demographic growth projections, estimates of FP/RH
commodities over the coming years, and mechanisms for integrating
health, educational, housing, food and nutrition and employment
needs into the highest levels of governmental planning and budgeting

3) Development of a coordinated and cross-sectoral plan and program
to communicate, promote and publicize use of FP/RH services by
couples of reproductive age through behavioral change communication,
community mobilization, expanded and improved FP/RH services at
village level, health centers, clinics, hospitals and private health
care facilities, local and national media communications,
faith-based organizations and educational systems.

9. In addition to reaching consensus on these resolutions, major
decision makers are now fully engaged and understand the direct
links between Family Planning and long-term development for the DRC.
Furthermore, the conference laid essential advocacy groundwork by
empowering key persons and personalites to speak comfortably and
effectively in public about the importance of family planning.

10. Appropriate financial resources are needed to capitalize on the
political will, momentum and platform created by this conference.
Mr. William J. Garvelink, U.S. Ambassador to the DRC, has opened
dialogue with other ambassadors in Kinshasa to increase their
country's financial commitments to Family Planning. Mr. Stephen
Haykin, USAID Mission Director, who is advocating among his
counterparts, provided an emphatic closing speech on the
multi-sectoral significance of family planning and reproductive
health, including linkages with economic development, the role of
women and the environment.

11. Comment: The First Lady's active leadership is historic and her
statements in support of FP could not have been stronger. The
Conference was a successful effort targeting three sets of actors
who need henceforth to work in much greater concert: government
decision makers and influential stakeholders; international donors;
and the general population. USAID will continue to mobilize in such
ways but also looks to Washington to provide support to the DRC
through the new Global Health Initiative and to lend its weight to
the task of influencing others at their headquarters level such as
the World Bank. The way has been significantly cleared now in the
Democratic Republic of Congo to apply increased FP resources with
likely increasingly successful results.


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