Reproductive health services “improvement is ongoing”

Reproductive health services “improvement is ongoing”

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu says South Africa will continue working to improve access to reproductive health care services.

Speaking at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which is currently underway in Nairobi, Kenya, Mthembu said the newly completed five-year plan for the country’s 6th democratic administration affirmed that South Africa will in the next five years continue to improve access to reproductive health services, including targeting adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights in order to address pregnancies and risky behaviour.

The plan also includes upscaling existing campaigns and programmes on new HIV infections among youth, women and persons with disabilities and develop targeted programme on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights, including gender mainstreaming, youth and disability issues in programmes, and addressing teenage pregnancies.

Mthembu said South Africa will strive to further reduce child and maternal mortality and to improve access to reproductive health services and anti-retroviral treatment.

Highlighting some of the country’s interventions in ensuring access to quality health services, Mthembu said the country is currently piloting the National Health Insurance (NHI) in order to enhance universal access to quality health care as well as to bridge the quality gaps that exist in the private and public sectors.

“South Africa has also embraced the importance of extending free dignity packs to poor women and girls with a view to improve women’s reproductive health and contribute to the retention of girl children in schools who often miss school during their cycle.

“We are confident that these interventions will ensure that we continue to place people at the centre of our developmental agenda,” Mthembu said.

He said South Africa continues to commit itself to tackling the challenges identified for the 2019 Nairobi Summit on #ICPD25.

The ICPD Programme of Action commitments are centred around achieving zero unmet needs for family planning information and services; zero preventable maternal deaths; zero sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls referred to as Ukuthwalwa; and providing detail for implementing second phase of the democratic transition.

Reproductive health care programmes

South Africa has also expanded reproductive health care through various programmes such as the Integrated School Health Programme which focuses on addressing both the immediate health problems of learners, including barriers to teaching and learning as well as implementing interventions that can promote their health and well-being during childhood and beyond.

The National Department of Health has introduced programmes such as B-Wise – a young person’s interactive cell phone health platform to empower adolescents and youth to make the right choices based on accurate information; and She Conquers Campaign – A youth-led campaign which will run for 3-years collaborating with government, NGOs, business, and civil society to address the major issues that adolescent girls and young women face in South Africa today.

South Africa has over the last 25 years embarked on a number of legislative and policy interventions which focus on the sexual health and wellbeing of young people, as well as providing for women to choose a contraceptive method that they prefer. The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act which was passed in 1996 has ensured deaths from unsafe abortion has declined by more than 90%. Access to Primary Health Care Services measured in terms of visits per annum, increased from some 67 million in 1998 to over 128 million in March 2018. Furthermore, the total numbers of new HIV infections declined from 270 000 in 2016 to 231 000 in 2018.

South Africa is currently also in the process of decriminalising sex work to ensure that the sex work industry is regulated and that women are protected.

Mboweni: Implementation key to SA’s economic growth

Mboweni: Implementation key to SA’s economic growth

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni says the country needs to work on the implementation of policies if it is to realize improvements and growth in the country’s sluggish economy.

Mboweni made the comment when he delivered his opening remarks at the third economic colloquium on the South African economy on Thursday.

“One of the biggest constraints to economic growth in South Africa is lack of implementation about things that were decided upon. If we at least implement 30% of the things we said we would implement then we would be making great progress,” said Mboweni.

The third economic colloquium will see government officials, public and private sector economists, and academics deliberate on policy proposals on how to improve and grow the South African economy.

The colloquium comes in preparation for the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) to be tabled in Parliament during October.

Following the first colloquium, the Minister presented ideas emanating from the engagement to the governing party – the ANC.

“One of the things I have learned over the years is that you need political buy-in. If you think you can just parachute policy from somewhere without political buy-in, then you are wasting your time, which most think tanks do not understand. Because at the end of the day, policy is politics.” said the Minister.

Tito Mboweni

The economic colloquium will also allow delegates to discuss the recently published paper on South Africa’s economic strategy titled “Towards a growth agenda for the South African economy”.

Mboweni said well over 700 comments were received on the paper by the National Treasury.

“My guidance to the Treasury staff when going through the comments was that ideas which are internally consistent with what we are trying to do we should incorporate.

“Those that are internally inconsistent we should just appreciate the contribution and say this is not consistent with what we are trying to do,” he said.

Mboweni said he and his team would spend the upcoming weekend putting the final touches to the MTBPS while also finalising the economic strategy document. 

“We are now at the tail end of the preparations so this meeting gives us the opportunity to have the last bite.

“The expectation is that when we submit the MTBPS we should also provide the finalised version of the economic strategy document,” he said.

While the MTBPS was scheduled to take place on 30 October 2019, Minister Mboweni announced that this was likely to change to allow the President to attend.

“I need to say here that the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement is likely to be presented earlier than the 30th of October. We had initially planned on the 30th.

“We had planned that around the President’s diary. It turns out that he might be out of the country. So we are going to have pull back the date. We are looking at the 29th of October 2019,” he said.

According to Treasury, SA’s current economic path is unsustainable with the country facing the triple threat of stagnating economic growth, rising unemployment and high inequality.

Since his appointment, Mboweni has hosted two successful economic colloquia.

The previous colloquia assessed some of the viable policy proposals and interventions that encourage new models and paradigm shifts to support faster and more inclusive economic growth in South Africa.

Citizen-accountability for health – transparency

Until a woman from the poorest family in the most crowded slum can be sure that her local clinic will have the medicine and staffing her government has promised, global health will remain uncertain

A great read from World Vision’s  Policy Report: Grassroots to global: 7 steps to Citizen-Driven Accountability for the Sustainable Development Goals

This is what the SA NCD Alliance supports. Do you?

Step 2 Work Together: Support collaboration among accountability actors, and aggregate citizen-generated information about the quality of service delivery at the subnational level
7 step accountability blue print