United Nations Population Fund
The experience of Fiocruz when it comes to health and knowledge production, and how this expertise can benefit developing countries, was subject of an exclusive panel at the Nairobi Summit, an event organized jointly by the governments of Kenya and Danmark and by the United Nations Population Fund (Unfpa) that took place on 11/12. The Summit brought together governments, society, scholars and activitists from all over the world to evaluate the progress made in sexual and reproductive health in the past 25 years, since the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development was agreed upon, and to strengthen the promises the world made then.
Last July, Fiocruz signed a partnership with Unfpa to develop projects on a global scale by means of the South-South and Triangular Cooperation, which allows two or three countries to help each other out so they can develop specific issues. The priority of this partnership, that had already been defined, is to take Brazilian expertise in reducing maternal death rates to African countries such as Angola, Senegal, São Tomé and Príncipe, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau, which, in turn, will also share their experience in public health.
Eliminating avoidable maternal deaths in the world by 2030 is one of the commitments stimulated by Unfpa, as well as eliminating the number of women who wish to avoid pregnancies but have no access to birth control methods or have inadequate information on their use, and eliminating violence against women and girls. These three goals, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, guided the discussions throughout the Nairobi Summit.
For Júnia Quiroga, auxiliary representative of Unfpa Brazil, this participation of Fiocruz was one of the highlights of the event. “It will be very useful to show the world how the Brazilian experience in research and healthcare focused on the reduction of maternal deaths, and on the fulfilling of the Cairo Agenda, can be taken to partner countries by means of the South-South Cooperation instrument. Together, we can improve the quality and the access to services of sexual and reproductive rights”, she states.
Fiocruz president, Nísia Trindade Lima, celebrated the opportunity. “We agree that the prioritary goal of the joint action within this partnership would be reducing avoidable maternal deaths in these countries, especially by strengthening national maternal death surveillance systems. We will be sharing good practices, opportunities and technical cooperation resources in the initiatives proposed together”, she said.
In the past 25 years, a global change in the approach to reproductive rights has caused a revolution in the lives of thousands of men and women, who now have more information and freedom to decide whether to have children or not, when to have them, with whom, and how many. This vision was consolidated in the International Conference of Population and Development, which took place in Cairo in 1994, when 179 countries signed a program of action committing themselves to implementing government policies to put individual liberties and gender equality in the spotlight of the debate.
Some of the progresses that have resulted from this process were increased access to birth control methods and a drop in the fertility rate observed all over the world: from a global average of 2.9 children per woman, in 1994, this number has fallen to 2.5 this year. In Brazil, 25 years ago women had an average of 2.6 children; the number is now 1.7. But there is still much to be done to make sure reproductive rights are available to everyone, and as a high-level event, during the Nairobi Summit the discussion was how to accelerate the implementation of this agenda, so as to achieve the goal.
The United Nations Population Fund is the UN international development agency that tackles populational issues. Since its creation, in July 1967, it has played a key role in the population development programes related to sexual health, reproductive health and reproductive rights.