On World Population Day, Health Minister: Family Planning for the health of mothers and families

9 August 2012

El Genaina, West Darfur, July 16, 2012. Federal Minister of Heath, Bahar Idris Abu Garda, today addressed Sudan’s celebration of the World Population Day in El Genaina, West Darfur stressing the role of family planning in achieving the health of mothers, children and families.

The UNFPA-supported all-day event was attended by Federal and State government officials; UNPA Representative in Sudan; partners from the UN, civil society, academia, midwives and midwifery school students in addition to hundreds of spectators from El Genaina and neighboring area.

“Today is a good opportunity to renew our commitment to improving reproductive health in West Darfur and in all Sudan, especially family planning to reduce maternal death,” said Mr. Abu Garda. The Minister noted that reproductive health is a main component of primary health care but facing considerable challenges that affect the health of mothers, newborns and families.

The minister asserted that achieving the objective of spacing between children requires persistent awareness-raising among society members, especially women. He added that child marriage also poses equal risk on mothers’ lives and encouraged policy- and decision-makers and civil society organizations to step-up awareness-raising campaigns.

The Minister noted that improving reproductive health services include training of medical cadres, awareness-raising among women and families and putting in place effective referral channels to save the lives of mothers and their new-borns.

With support from UNFPA, the all-day event was co-organized by the Reproductive Health Directorate, of the Federal Ministry of Health and the West Darfur Ministry of Health under the adapted theme of “integrated reproductive health services .. guarantee healthy and happy families”. Besides the official morning segment, the event included an exhibit of material ranging from awareness-raising to nutrition to teaching aids from El Genaina midwifery school.

The event also included a blood donation clinic and a leaders seminar chaired by the Wali (Governer) and the Health Minister where presented papers and interventions discussed in depth various aspects of reproductive health services after which a set of recommendation were adopted. A space for creativity and local art included performance by the local group Ajaweed.

West Darfur Wali, Hayder Glokma Ateem underscored the significance of the participation of West Darfur people in celebrating the World Population Day which shows “their growing awareness of the issues that directly touch their lives. West Darfur, he added, is moving slowly but surely towards the goal of achieving integrated reproductive health services that cover all the state with the help of organizations such as UNFPA.

Calling for effective partnerships to provide reproductive health services in West Darfur; State Minister of Health, Ahmed Ishag Ya’goub, stressed “the need for transparency and accountability.” He further remarked that celebrating the World Population Day is an opportunity to highlight other population issues that help people live a dignified life such as nutrition, clean drinking water, health, education, shelter, sanitation, roads and waste disposal. The minister called for having in place the required programs to address those needs.

The adapted theme of “integrated reproductive health services .. guarantee healthy and happy families” is especially significant for Sudan. The theme ties in with UNFP’s global focus on child spacing services as an integral part of reproductive health services. At the London Summit on Family Planning which was held on July 11, 2012 to coincide with the World Population Day; donors committed about $4.6 Billion for child spacing services for Eight Years. As one of the main organizers of the Summit, UNFPA welcomed the pledge that will enable UNFPA to increase its global funding for child spacing services from 25 % to 40 %.

This money would help 222 million women around the world who want to space their children but have no access to child-spacing information and services. It would prevent 79,000 maternal deaths and 1.1 million infant deaths world-wide.

On behalf of Pamela Delargy; UNFPA Representative to Sudan; Dr. Anas Jabir Babikir, addressed the event stressing that in order for Sudanese women to better contribute to development, they have to have access to integrated reproductive health services that include emergency services during pregnancy and delivery together with child spacing information and services.

“Official statistics show that 28% of Sudanese women would like to space their children but they do not find the services and the information they need to help them decide,” said Dr. Babiker. He further remarked that “UNFPA believes when we ensure every woman has the opportunity to voluntarily decide on spacing her children; thousands, probably millions, of Sudanese women will be healthier; and so will their children.”

At the end of the official ceremony, the blood donation clinic was launched where UNFPA staff and spectators donated blood to save mothers’ lives in West Darfur.