Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a pleasure for me to represent Mr. Danny Faure, President of the Republic of Seychelles on this special occasion. Before I continue, please allow me to also extend a very warm welcome to each and everyone of you participating in this memorable event. Your presence today signifies your unwavering support for the exceptional work being carried out by the United Nations Population Fund.
We are privileged and honoured that Seychelles has been chosen as the venue for the official launch of this important report on the “Status of the World Population”.
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the UNFPA, we are bestowed with the great privilege of also reflecting on the important work of the United Nations Population Fund and to recognize the achievements it has attained over the past five decades.
This important milestone cannot be understated. The world has made remarkable gains in reproductive health and rights since the UNFPA began operations in 1969. Over the past 5 decades we have witnessed how medical development and innovation have promoted stronger health care systems resulting in reduced mother, infant and child mortality and an increased life expectancy resulting in healthy population growth.
It is important to note that 50 years after UNFPA began operations and 25 years after the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) consensus, they have made progress in extending reproductive health information and services to more women than ever before. It is crucial to emphasize that the ability of women and girls to make choices about their sexual and reproductive health and rights, has significant effects on other areas of their lives, including impacts on their education, career and future aspirations.
The report which is being launched today further highlights the important interrelated links between, human rights, gender equality and access to sexual reproductive health service. Universal access to sexual and reproductive health not only relates to the issue of rights, but also the vital importance in achieving other global development goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals.
The UNFPA has set several targets to meet the sustainable development goals by 2030, including eliminating preventable maternal deaths, creating universal access to family planning, and achieving zero tolerance for violent and abusive practices that harm women and girls. Seychelles strongly supports these initiatives and will continue to vie meet these objectives.
Seychelles’ Sexual Reproductive Health Policy is integral to the country’s National Gender Policy that is aligned with SDG goal 3 and 5 respectively. Seychelles is well known for its advocacy for women empowerment. There is no greater empowerment of one’s right of choice when it comes to reproductive health.
Women in Seychelles have the opportunity to control their reproductive choices, pursue an education, employment, and a better future for their children. This is why the Government of Seychelles pursues a people-centered policy that promotes the rights and dignity of our people especially our women and girls.
Great strides have been made to promote access to sexual reproductive health care services for women and youth. Much emphasis has also been placed on education and sensitization as we strongly believe that access to correct information plays a significant role in teaching our population on the available services and choices at their disposal.
This is part and parcel of our quest to achieve the sustainable development goals and maintain the well-being of the Seychellois nation. We will thus continue to work with key international partners like the UNFPA to ensure that our citizens continue to have choices as we believe that this improves health outcomes and achieves socio-economic development of the country.
However, this does not mean that we can now be complacent. The theme for this year’s report “Unfinished business: The pursuit of rights and choices for all” reminds us that our task is not complete. Despite our achievements, we still face certain challenges such as unplanned underage pregnancies, risky sexual practices, as well as drugs and alcohol abuse which to some degree correlates with some of our nationals not accessing the services at hand either due to lack of knowledge or because of a fear of stigmatization. This is why Seychelles remains committed to improve access to our health care services including reaching out to all groups in our society such as through a decentralization policy of our sexual and reproductive health services.
Seychelles thus, welcomes the signing of the “Implementation Partner Agreement” and Work Plan between the UNFPA and the Seychelles Ministry of Health which took place yesterday. This signifies the strong partnership between the UNFPA and Seychelles, which have reinforced our collaborative foundation in the next step of our nation’s development. It is a strategic document that is fully aligned with our national priorities, and represents our renewed commitment to work in a concerted and effective manner to address issues of reproductive health, safe birthing and reduction of mother to child HIV/AIDS transmission.
As we I conclude I would like to seize this opportunity to express my gratitude and appreciation for the continuous support we receive from the UNFPA as well as the active engagement of the national stakeholders, NGO’s and .private sector. Seychelles remains devoted to dialogue with each and everyone of you and your vital contributions will further ensure that we achieve our shared ambitions for the benefit of all.
I thank you all for your kind attention.