By Serah Aupong – EM TV, Port Moresby
The draft copy of the Sustainable Development Goals, the document that will succeed the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, does not contain family planning, as an issue that needs attention.
Former Community Development Minister, and current high level taskforce member of the International Conference on Population Development, Dame Carol Kidu, told EMTV that this needs to be rectified.
She says exclusion of family planning from the SDGs will mean less priority is given to an important area of social development in Papua New Guinea, and the rest of the Pacific.
The Sustainable Development Goals are a set of development agenda that is being proposed by the United Nations to carry forward unfinished business from the Millennium Development Goals as well as propose new ways of doing business.
The process to develop the SDGs has begun and the draft report has come out. Family planning is notably missing from this document despite efforts to ensure that it is included as an agenda to improve the lives of women and girls worldwide.
Efforts are underway to lobby the inclusion of family planning by organizations such as the ICPD. Dame Carol says, Pacific Island nations must ensure they use their votes in the UN to impact on such issues.
“It is important to remember that even though we are small, the Pacific region has 22 votes.”
Within the Pacific region, Papua New Guinea has the highest rate of maternal mortality. The latest numbers show 733 deaths per 100, 000 women. That means by the end of today, 4 women would have died due to pregnancy related causes. That means 1, 400 women dying every year.
Family planning features highly in PNGs efforts to improve maternal health care. Many believe it to be the most cost effective way of reducing the maternal mortality rate in the country.
“Family planning saves a life, that is a fact,” Dame Carol says. The impact of family planning extends beyond the health of women.
Climate change impacts on small islands, in PNG and around the Pacific, mean population control is needed now more than ever. The loss of land through climate change, adds on to the pressure of a fast growing population in PNG.
PNG has made a concerted effort to improve maternal mortality. The 2009 Ministerial taskforce has set the pace for work that needs to be done and the current government is taking those recommendations forward.
Due to the magnitude of improving maternal health and reducing maternal mortality in the nation, the government has been working with other stakeholders such as donor agencies and international organisations to curb this critical issue in the country.
The SDGs are expected to be finalised and adopted by September this year.
The exclusion of family planning in the SDGs could mean less support for a service that is desperately needed and Dame Carol urges the government of PNG and other Pacific island nations “to fight for a more progressive document in September.”