UNFPA, Finland ink reproduction rights, safety access with Covid-19

01Aug 2020
Getrude Mbago
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
UNFPA, Finland ink reproduction rights, safety access with Covid-19

THE United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) office in Tanzania and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Finland yesterday signed an agreement for a special project to support women and girls during the COVID-19 crisis.

The agreement was signed between Riita Swan, the Ambassador of Finland on behalf of the country’s foreign minister and Dr Wildred Ochan, head of the UNFPA country office.

Worth euro 900,000  (about 2.48bn/-), the eight month project seeks to support and protect sexual reproductive health along with response services in instances of gender based violence such as medical attention for GBV survivors in various regions.

UNFPA said in a statement yesterday that Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Mwanza and Shinyanga will be on the first line of beneficiary regions in the project.

Women of reproductive age (15-49 years) especially girls and young people aged 10 to 24 years will be sought out in the targeted regions. The project shall work to ensure that there is continued use of essential life-saving sexual reproductive health and access to gender based violence response services, the agency said.

It further said that the project will ensure there is enhanced the protection of women and girls from violations of their human rights, including suffering gender based violence and certain harmful practices.

Recently, UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem said that the COVID crisis has taken a staggering toll on people, communities and economies everywhere, “yet not everyone is affected equally, and as we so often see, women and girls tend to suffer most.”

In a message to commemorate the World Population Day on July 11, Dr Kanem said that the impact of COVID-19 will likely hamper global efforts to achieve three ‘zeros’ at the heart of the agency’s work – zero unmet need for contraception, zero preventable maternal deaths, and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls, even by 2030.

“Now, with countries on lockdown and household tensions heightened, gender-based violence is on the rise, and sexual and reproductive health services are being sidelined by health systems struggling to cope with COVID-19,” the director declared.

 “On this World Population Day, we call attention to the vulnerabilities and needs of women and girls during the COVID-19 crisis, and why protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights, and ending the shadow pandemic of gender-based violence is imperative, especially in these challenging times,” she emphasised

Dr Kanem however said that UNFPA is working to ensure that the supply of modern contraceptives and reproductive health commodities is maintained and that midwives and other health personnel have the personal protective equipment they need to stay safe.

"Sexual and reproductive health care is a right, and like pregnancies and childbirth, human rights don’t stop with pandemics. Together, let’s put the brakes on COVID-19 and safeguard the health and rights of women and girls,” she added

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