PIC: Speaker Rebecca Kadaga greets participants at the event. (Credit: Eddie Ssejjoba)
Legislators from sixteen parliaments across the African continent, development partners and civil rights organisations have advocated for increased government funding to the health sector. They want more resources be allocated to reproductive health and family planning programmes.
Among other things, the legislators have also resolved to support the drive against early marriages and teenage pregnancy and to advocate for initiatives to keep the girlchild in school.
In their draft resolutions termed “Kampala Call for Action”, adopted after a two-day International Conference of the Network of African Parliamentary Committees of Health (NEAPACOH), at Speke Resort Munyonyo on Wednesday and Thursday, the legislators agreed to participate in monitoring and evaluation of reproductive health and family planning programmes.
They also noted that reproductive health and family planning programmes remain critically important for sustainable development of the African continent.
“It is essential to continue positioning reproductive health and family planning programmes high on the continent’s development agenda,” the resolution states in part.
Delegates included chairpersons of health committees of parliaments from Ethiopia, Benin, Burundi, Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Senegal, South Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, The Gambia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and hosts Uganda. Others were development partners, civil society and other stakeholders.
Ugandan state minister for housing and urban development, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, participated in the deliberations whose theme was, “Building the capacity of African policy makers for reproductive health and family planning: Challenges and Opportunities for Parliaments to enhance RH/FP”.
Other resolutions passed included institutionalising NEAPACOH in African parliaments, strengthening funding mechanisms for the implementation of its strategy, promoting and strengthening partnerships including private-public partnerships in promoting RH/FP, population and development, among others.
“We should advocate for investments in young people with a focus on education, health, skilling, job creation to enhance the demographic dividend,” one of the resolutions stated.
The MPs also resolved to support laws and policies that operationalise task sharing for improved service delivery of reproductive health and family planning programmes issues, collaborate with political and other leaders and optimise capacity to advocate for FP and population issues.
PIC: Prof. Francis Omaswa, the executive director of African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST), addressing African legislators at Speke Resort Munyonyo. Right is Marianne Haslegrave, the director of the commonwealth Medical Trust (COMMAT)
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, opened the meeting on Wednesday and challenged the legislators to discuss central issues concerning quality of life of people in their quest to deliberate on ways of harnessing the demographic dividends (the economic growth potential or benefits that can result from shifts in a population's age structure, mainly when the share of the working-age population is larger than the non-working-age).
Kadaga explained that in the last financial year in Uganda, there was a battle between Parliament and the ministry of finance after ministry officials cut down the health budget, and asked all African legislators to make follow ups of their budget allocations to ensure they are implemented.
Academicians, including Prof. Augustus Nuwagaba from Makerere University, Prof. Francis Omaswa, Executive Director, African Centre for Global Health and Social, UNFPA Country Representative Alain Sibenaler, among others, delivered papers.
Dr. Michael Bukenya, the Chairperson of the Committee on Health and Bukuya County MP closed the conference on behalf of Sarah Opendi, Minister of State for Health (General Duties).