15.11.2012

Maputo Plan of Action: Botswana gets the thumbs up

Botswana is fairing well in the Maputo Plan of Action (MPOA) in as far as availability of policies in several aspects of the continental response to Sexual Reproductive and Human Rights (SRHR), a workshop that monitors the regional plan revealed yesterday.

Among others, Botswana has achieved 92 percent completion rate of the first element on integration of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections, malaria and sexual reproductive health services into primary health care. The September 2012 MPOA scorecard also indicates that the country, together with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania are leaders in youth-friendly SRHR services positioned as key strategy for youth empowerment and well-being. However, an officer in the Ministry of Health (MoH) Lesego Makganya told the participants ranging from government, civil society and the media that there were disparities between policy and implementation. Makganya attributed these to cultural beliefs and lack of resources. Despite the shortfalls, she said much has been done to implement the plan of action as evidenced by the launch of the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality.  In addition, the ministry has established youth-friendly health services in public health services. "We have also advocated for inclusive or retention of family life skills in formal curriculum from primary to tertiary education," she said. Lame Olebile, from the Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) argued that though policies have been drawn, it is crucial that they are inclusive. She said the nation continues to sweep the existence of sexual practices between women and other women, and men and men under the carpet, which proliferates the HIV/AIDS and STIs prevalence. Calling for inclusiveness in policy, she said until government and laws wake up to this reality, the nation would be then said to be in the right direction as presently, the policies are as good as non-existent.  The Maputo Plan of Action, alias the Plan of Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, is the plan of action for the operationalisation of the continental policy framework for sexual and reproductive health and rights adopted in Gaborone and endorsed in Maputo by the African Union (AU) heads of state. This is a document promoting Universal Access to Comprehensive Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in Africa.The workshop, which ends today (with a media training), is conducted by the Accountability International (AAI), in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC), the Ford Foundation and Institute for the Advancement of Journalism (IAJ) focusing on accountability in its series of national SRHR accountability workshops in Southern Africa. The workshops aim to increase the capacity of the media in Africa on SRHR and to report on relevant SRHR issues to a greater degree and with better engagement, build the capacity of government and civil society to work together with the media to improve SRHR and thus increase accountability and finally promote increased action on MPOA through greater networking by government, civil society and media institutions to achieve SRHR goals. (Kayawe, Mmegionline)

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