Crises and conservatism are jeopardizing sexual and reproductive health and rights. Now is the time to restate not rip up their place in development, say Europe's progressive governments. It is one of the key insights of Countdown 2030 Europe's consultation with European governments, which forms the basis for a long-read explaining why they will continue to be at the forefront of global action to support SRHR.
Back to square one? What is the impact of COVID-19 on the realisation of the Sustainable Development Agenda?
The ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’ see to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and Belgium’s role therein. During a webinar on September 29th the parliamentarians looked at where we are 5 years into the 2030 Agenda and enquired into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its realisation.
Prof. Dr. Olivier Degomme, Director of the International Centre for Reproductive Health (ICRH-Ghent University) took stock of the consequences of the pandemic on SDG3, ‘good health and well-being for all’. He showed the worldwide measurements have serious consequence for the access to contraceptives, family planning services and maternal health. Recent research of the WHO indicated that 90% of all countries reported interruptions of essential health services, and 68% reported interruptions of family planning services.
The new Minister of Development Cooperation is Meryame Kitir, member of the Flemish social-democratic party and a popular politician from the province of Limburg. She has a migration and working-class background and grew into politics through her involvement as a labour unionist. Her parliamentary work focused on social affairs, which will be an asset when engaging with Belgium’s international development cooperation.
De Croo, previously Minister of Development Cooperation and Deputy Prime Minister took office on October 1st. He will lead the so-called Vivaldi government, in reference to the political party colours represented in his team. Vivaldi consists of the two liberal parties, the two green parties, the two socialist parties and the Flemish Christian-democrats, making a total of 7 parties.
What does it take to meet the need for sexual and and reproductive health services? Guttmacher did the math.
Guttmacher’s recently published 2019 “Adding it Up” report captures the shortages in sexual and reproductive health services in low and middle income countries (LMIC). The research institute calculated what it would take to bridge the gap.
The yearly Commission on Population and Development (CPD) suffered from the consequences of the lockdown measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Having been postponed and changed into virtual gatherings did help to not bring member-states closer to a joint recognition of the outstanding challenges.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) published a positive opinion on the use of the dapivirine vaginal ring for women ages 18 and older in developing countries to reduce their risk of HIV-1 infection. The monthly ring is the first long-acting HIV prevention product and is designed to help address women’s unmet need for new prevention methods given the persistently high rates of HIV they face, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
In September 2015 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, setting forward 17 Sustainable Development Goals, with no less then 169 targets to be achieved by 2030. What progress has been made since?
Gains made in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV could be reversed, with new HIV infections among children up by as much as 162% and setting the clock on AIDS-related deaths back to 2008, a modelling group convened by the World Health Organization and UNAIDS estimated. If no efforts are made to mitigate and overcome interruptions in health services and supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, a six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy could lead to more than 500,000 extra deaths from AIDS-related illnesses in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020–2021.
The effects of the current health crisis are far-reaching and are still unwinding. But it is clear that the most marginalised will be the hardest hit. Reproductive freedom is not a reality for many women across the globe. For too many women, access to quality family planning still depends on where they live and how much money they make.