WHA66 cross-regional statement for agenda item 14.1 on post-MDG
I am honored to speak on behalf of Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, Mozambique, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Somalia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Uruguay.
We are fortunate to live in a time that has witnessed unprecedented strides in human health, and that continues to offer multitude of possibilities for still greater progress. Work to achieve international development goals including the MDGs has meant that poverty and child mortality are decreasing in all parts of our world. But we also continue to face great challenges, among others the MDG 5 on maternal mortality.
An essential part of MDG 5 is sexual and reproductive health and rights, which means the right to physical integrity, to decide whether or not to have children, how many and when, protection from sexually-transmitted infections, including HIV, as well as freedom from any form of abuse, including sexual violence, coercion, stigma and discrimination. We recognize the importance of health in the post 2015 agenda and in this statement we would like to focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights as one important aspect that should be addressed in this regard.
Sexual and reproductive illnesses and injuries threaten the health and lives of all too many people, particularly women and adolescent girls. We know that pregnancy-related complications are the number one cause of death among girls between 15 and 19 in low- and middle-income countries. Forced early marriages and early pregnancies expose young women to greater physical risks, as well as psychological risks due to lost social and educational opportunities. They are also in greatest danger to suffer from obstetric fistula. To avoid this, girl’s and women’s empowerment and gender equality are crucial to attain. We also know that almost half (42 per cent) of new HIV infections among young people occur in the 15–24 age-group. This underscores the urgency of providing and ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health services for women and young people.
To meet health related challenges post-2015, legal systems must support human rights of every person, and health care systems must ensure and facilitate the right to make informed choices about all aspects of health and well-being. Effective health systems must meet current and emerging challenges in order to promote healthy lives. They must deliver quality health services for all, including the poorest and most marginalized, and protect and promote sexual and reproductive health and rights for all. Effective health systems must deliver and enable access to essential medicines and other health commodities, including for sexual and reproductive health.
Every person is entitled to full and equal enjoyment of all human rights, including the right to the highest attainable standard of health. Investment in sexual and reproductive health and rights has multiple and complementary effects for women, men, their families and development. Comprehensive education on sexual rights and health as well as adolescent friendly sexual and reproductive health services are critical for ensuring health, education, rights and empowerment of girls and young people. Improving sexual and reproductive health and rights of all women, men and young people is an essential contribution to the eradication of poverty and the achievement of sustainable economic, social and environmental development. Government investment in health services for all will be key in this endeavor.
Results of the various global post-2015 thematic consultations are now becoming available. In several of the reports from these consultations (Inequalities, Health, Population Dynamics for example) it is made clear that gender equality and improved access to information and to sexual and reproductive health services, counseling and access to contraceptives – not least for women and young people – is fundamental for reducing maternal and child mortality, eradication of poverty and sustainable development. Also the interrelation between gender equality and education of girls has to be taken into account.
We must remain committed to the full implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)/Cairo Declaration and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, with special focus on gender equality and the right of women, men, girls and boys to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexual and reproductive health and rights
We are committed to upholding and promoting human rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, through the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 agenda.