health

May 4, 2022

LINEO MABEKEBEKE

3 min read

Lesotho commits to health rights

Lesotho commits to health rights

’Mamofota Kale from the SAfAIDS

Story highlights

  • SADC region pledges to improve sexual and reproductive health rights among youth
  • Member states formulated new laws on among others child marriage

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RENEWED Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) commitment is anticipated to increase political will and engagement on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) related to adolescents and youth in Lesotho.

It follows the SADC countries pledge to improving sexual and reproductive health rights among adolescents and young people, significant gaps and barriers that still exist to realisation of the ESA’s commitment targets.

The countries include Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa amongst others.

The countries have contributed to formulations of new laws and policies or review of laws and policies around child marriage and education rights of pregnant learners.

The short-term targets need to be met by 2025, according to ’Mamofota Kale from the Southern African HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS).

She said the targets included 95 percent of adolescents and young people to be reached with good-quality, age-appropriate, culturally-relevant and evidence-based sexuality education through in and out of school programmes.

“Another target includes adolescent and youth-friendly SRHR services that are integrated into Universal Health Coverage packages,” said Ms Kale.

In the longer term, she said the ESA would work towards reaching the targets by the end of 2030, when the reduction of new HIV infections would be 60 percent among adolescents and young people aged 15-24 years.

“ESA will establish sustainable financing modalities including direct allocation of domestic resources, innovative and blended financing modalities to mobilise resources to be allocated to all the relevant sectors contributing to the realisation of the SRHR of adolescents and young people,” she said.

“Additionally, the renewed commitment is expected to foster and sustain the design and roll-out of new CSE interventions and programmes for prevention of early and unintended pregnancy.”

UNESCO National Programme Officer, Lineo Molapo said an evaluation of the 2013 commitment revealed progress in reducing new HIV infections, increasing comprehensive HIV knowledge and creating a conducive policy environment.

She said the evaluation also indicated that accelerated efforts were urgently needed to reduce Early and Unintended Pregnancy (EUP), Gender Based Violence (GBV) and curb the effect of humanitarian emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to UNICEF, this further underscores the need to renew the commitment, through expanding and aligning it with the SDG Agenda 2030.

SAfAIDS with the support of UNESCO, under ‘Secure the Future’ project, is collaborating with Civil Society and Youth Organizations in the SADC region to increase support for the renewed ESA Ministerial Commitment on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services for adolescents and young people that 21 SADC and East African countries made in 2021.

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At regional level the ESA commitment will also sustain legitimacy and pressure for the achievement of targets by member states.

Among other key initiatives, ESA will close significant gaps and address several barriers to the realisation of the commitment targets.

As part of the project, SAfAIDS Lesotho is also mobilising and engaging other CSOs and youth organisations in the country, to strengthen meaningful and effective engagement, where member states will catalyse the adoption of the renewed commitment to national priorities, policies, and laws.

SAfAIDS is supporting CSOs to convene national CSE and Adolescents and Young People’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (AYSRHR) dialogues, participate in national technical working groups, engage with the media and track and monitor opposition to CSE and AYSRHR.

ESA commitment is an initiated process that aims to develop and implement a commitment on needs and rights of young people.

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