03 April 2017

Parliamentarians take action on adolescent health and inequalities

2 APRIL 2017 | DHAKA, BANGLADESH

Parliamentarians from more than 130 countries are gathered in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1-5 April, at the 136th assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), to debate how to end economic, political and social inequalities, including those related to adolescents’ health.

Inaugurating the event at the National Parliament, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina welcomed 1,400 delegates to the largest-ever global gathering held to date in Bangladesh. The Prime Minister reiterated her commitment to continued progress in poverty reduction and democratic growth, including through dedicated efforts to combat terrorism, climate change and malnutrition. IPU President Saber Chowdhury, a member of the High-level Steering Group for Every Woman Every Child, emphasized the importance of women’s empowerment to the gains made to date in the country, as well as to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) more broadly.

Women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health issues are reflected widely throughout the IPU Assembly agenda. PMNCH Executive Director Helga Fogstad moderated a panel discussion on 2 April, “Breaking Down Barriers for Improved Health of Young Generations: A Multisectoral Approach,” in support of Every Woman Every Child.

Panelists, including the World Health Organization Director of Reproductive Health and Research, Mr. Ian Askew, Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement Coordinator, Ms. Gerda Verburg, Zambian Minister of Higher Education, Ms. Nkandu Luo, and Tanzanian MP, Mr. Faustine Ndugulile, discussed how parliamentarians can scale up action through multi-sector approaches and partnerships to address key health determinants, including nutrition, skills development, education and protection from gender-based violence.

Further focus on adolescent health is scheduled for 4 April, when The Partnership will moderate IPU’s Standing Committee debate, “Act Now for Adolescents: The Role of Parliamentarians in Promoting Adolescent Health and Well-Being.” The event will highlight the contributions of parliamentarians in legislation, oversight, allocation and representation on adolescent health issues, as well as update delegates on the ongoing focus of the IPU on the issue of early, child and forced marriage. In 2016, the IPU published a 37-country Asia-Pacific legislative review on child marriage.

In 2015-2016, PMNCH-supported work included parliamentary accountability and advocacy efforts in a wide range of countries, including:

  • Lesotho (review of parliamentary actions on health-related MDGs);
  • Bangladesh (community outreach efforts by members of parliament to end child marriage);
  • Rwanda (reinforcing parliamentary action on promoting family planning, adolescents’ health, access to sexual and reproductive health services, and civil registration and vital statistics, including public hearings in 30 districts);
  • Uganda (capacity building of newly elected MPs and development of a parliamentary advocacy strategy on maternal, newborn and child health);
  • Sierra Leone (in-depth training of MPs on ending discrimination and stigmatization experienced by Ebola survivors);
  • Zambia (field visits by MPs to community-based programmes limiting mother-to-child transmission of HIV).

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