UNFPAState of World Population 2004
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Action Priorities

Partnership with Civil Society
Resources for Implementing the Programme of Action
Priorities for Action

In adopting the ICPD Programme of Action in 1994, the world’s governments recognized that investing in people, broadening their opportunities and enabling them to realize their potential as human beings is the key to sustained economic growth and sustainable development.

Successful action to implement the Cairo agenda and combat poverty depends on adequate funding and effective partnerships.

This chapter discusses the role of partnership in promoting better reproductive health and efforts to achieve the goals of ICPD and the MDGs, and the resources required; this is followed by a summary of priorities for action.

Partnership with Civil Society

Non-governmental organizations, the backbone of many programmes around the world, played a crucial role in shaping the ICPD consensus, and their level of participation in the intergovernmental process was unprecedented. The Programme of Action was farreaching in its recommendations for promoting partnerships with NGOs, other civil society institutions and the private sector.

In many countries today, NGOs are active in providing reproductive health services and promoting the Cairo agenda in numerous other ways, including advocacy.

Before 1994, partnerships between governments and NGOs mostly involved family planning associations, which had been major providers of family planning services in many developing countries. These collaborations continued over the past decade, with NGOs frequently receiving substantial external funding to provide services independent of governments.

Since the ICPD and its 1999 review, partnerships have developed between governments and a broader range of civil society organizations, including professional associations, community groups and others.

In the UNFPA 2003 global survey, 90 per cent of governments in all regions reported active partnerships on population and reproductive health. Both sides have accepted that NGOs often can reach some groups more easily and carry out certain programmes more effectively than can governments.

NGOS AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH SERVICES. Some governments do not provide certain components of reproductive health due to financial constraints or a lack of capacity. In some settings requiring flexibility and quicker outreach, NGOs are better-placed than governments to promote gender equality, address gender-based violence, encourage male responsibility, provide reproductive health information and services to adolescents, undertake youth development programmes, and reach groups at higher risk of HIV infection.

In Mexico, the Government recognizes the role of NGOs in providing medical services including cervical smear tests, gynaecological consultations, antenatal care and care of newborns.

With the introduction over the past decade of health sector reform, Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and sector-wide approaches, many donors are now providing funding directly to governments. As a result, developing country governments are now often in a better position to partner with NGOs, other civil society actors and the private sector in ways that complement programmes they are implementing.

In Bangladesh, where NGOs and the private sector provide most health care, the Government has included NGOs and community-based organizations in a National Advisory Committee for Stakeholder Participation in the Health, Nutrition, and Population Sector, to ensure client-focused services, quality care, social and gender equity, and decentralization. The intent is to involve partners in planning as well as implementing policies and programmes.

On the other hand, some countries have included NGOs and others in the development of poverty reduction and health sector reform strategies, but have excluded them from the implementation phase.

NGOs and other civil society actors, including professional associations, are taking up actions traditionally considered the sole province of governments, including setting standards and ensuring accountability, either as a complement to or to fill gaps in government efforts. NGOs can also monitor government compliance with human rights treaties and commitments made to implement the Programme of Action.

Professional associations of doctors, nurses, midwives and other health care staff have key roles to play in standard setting, including ethical standards, and in providing continuing medical education and skills training to their members related to reproductive and sexual health and rights and the elements of quality care. International NGOs like the Commonwealth Medical Trust have carried out activities for this purpose.

PRIVATE SECTOR. Another new development in the past decade has been partnership between NGOs and the private sector in promoting reproductive health, as each side has come to recognize the other’s comparative advantages. Private companies provide opportunities for social marketing of condoms and other reproductive health commodities through supermarkets, shops and pharmacies. Some private employers now recognize the benefits of promoting sexual and reproductive health among their employees and in the communities where they operate.

PARLIAMENTARIANS. Elected representatives play important roles in setting priorities, allocating resources and defining institutional responsibilities with regard to sexual and reproductive health services and reproductive rights. Parliamentarians’ groups in a number of countries have worked to promote implementation of and adequate funding for the ICPD agenda.

The first such group, the Japan Parliamentarians Federation for Population, has been a leader in the global parliamentarians movement for three decades. The United Kingdom’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health has inspired national parliamentary groups in other European countries. Groups in developing countries include India’s Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, and committees on population and development in both houses of the Nigerian Parliament.

Regional and global networks of parliamentarians are also active in advocacy efforts. The Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, the Forum of African and Arab Parliamentarians on Population and Development, and the Inter-American Parliamentary Group on Population and Development all scheduled events in 2004 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the ICPD.

From 18-19 October 2004, the second International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (IPCI/ICPD) will be held in Strasbourg, France. The conference is jointly organized by the Inter-European Parliamentarian Forum on Population and Development and UNFPA in collaboration with the Council of Europe.

At the first IPCI/ICPD in 2002 in Ottawa, Canada, 103 elected officials from 72 countries signed a Statement of Commitment1 outlining specific actions they will take to safeguard women’s reproductive rights, improve access to reproductive health services including family planning, reduce maternal mortality and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, and pledged to strive to allocate up to 10 per cent of their nations’ development budgets for population and reproductive health programmes.

UNIVERSITIES. Governments frequently turn to universities to collect and analyse data, and for research, on sexual and reproductive health issues. In India, for example, 18 Population Research Centres attached to universities are responsible for researching population trends and dynamics, knowledge and attitudes of clients, operational issues and other aspects of the population and development nexus. The Institute of Social, Statistics and Economic Research in the University of Ghana provides training in reproductive health, gender, poverty and population-development interrelationships.

SOUTH/SOUTH COOPERATION. Facilitating the exchange of know-how and experiences between developing countries is another important aspect of the ICPD’s emphasis on partnership. Partners in Population and Development, established in 1994 with the support of UNFPA, the Rockefeller Foundation and other donors, is now an alliance of 20 developing countries (Bangladesh, Benin, China, Colombia, Egypt, the Gambia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe) working to expand and improve South-South collaboration on family planning and reproductive health.(2)

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