Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, Director General, National Population Council, Uganda;

Mr. Patrick Mugirwa, Programme Manager – PPD ARO;

Distinguished Guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen.

I take this opportunity to welcome you all to Kenya for the 13th meeting of the Eastern Africa Reproductive Health Network (EARHN). I am very happy to note that post Covid-19, Kenya is the first country to host a physical meeting for the members of the network. For the past three years, we have had to contend with virtual meetings given the global epidemic.

Feel free during your meeting to visit the numerous exciting sites in Nairobi including the National Park that is within the Capital City. It is my wish that you spend more than just the days of the Conference to tour Kenya.

Ladies and gentlemen

The health status of the people of Africa continues to be a matter of concern. The morbidity and mortality levels, especially of children and women remain unacceptably high. While governments in Africa have committed themselves to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) in international and regional agreements, implementation of these commitments at country level remains uneven.

Yet frameworks like the ICPD Programme of Action, the Maputo Plan of Action, an all-Africa continental framework that envisions universal access to SRHR including family planning (FP), the ICPD25 Commitments and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that recognize the importance of SRHR globally, would, if fully implemented, have uplifted the health status of women and children of the continent in a very fundamental way. Indeed, a review of African countries progress in achieving the SDGs reveal SDG number 3 particular on reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and on combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases remain unfinished business development agenda.

Ladies and gentlemen                                                          

Founded in 1996, the Eastern Africa Reproductive Health Network (EARHN) was founded with just three members of East Africa. The South-South advocacy network has since expanded its membership to seven (7) countries (Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda). For the last 12 engagements, the network undertakes advocacy aimed at improved policy, funding and visibility of reproductive health/family planning (RH/FP) outcomes in the region.

The seven countries although diverse in nature share similar challenges as far as reproductive health and climate challenges are concerned. It is my hope that we can learn from each other, find solutions that cut across the divide and adopt solutions for improved health outcomes.

Ladies and gentlemen

The Africa Regional Office of Partners in Population and Development (PPD ARO) based in Kampala, Uganda offers the secretariat for the Network. Every year, PPD ARO, organizes coordination meetings of EARHN and these meetings are hosted by the EARHN member countries. I note that the meetings bring together government officials from relevant government ministries and departments drawn from member countries, key civil society representatives, actors and champions in the field of FP/SRH.

The chairmanship of the network is on a two-year rotational basis and Uganda as the Secretariat Country has been able to support in the chairmanship to ensure there is no gap left. Some countries have lost their government focal points due to staff retirement and turnover however these changes have not seen a replacement in the focal points.

There is need for commitment from the member states to offer themselves for chairmanship and to appoint focal points to replace those who have left. We need the South-South collaboration if we are to move forward. We need to also invite other non-member states in Africa to join the Partners in Population and Development. We need to document our best practices and share with the Secretariat for learning purposes.

Ladies and gentlemen

As you deliberate on the agenda for the two- day meeting, I want to believe that the best practices shared from all the seven countries will in one way or the other find themselves in mainstream Government Programmes, supported by other actors to aim for Zero maternal deaths, Zero missed opportunities to address the RH challenges of adolescents and Zero child deaths.

The second Strategic Plan for EARHN has been developed and runs from 2022 to 2026. This will be discussed in this two-day meeting and my hope is that as countries, you will step up and develop action plans based on the Strategy for implementation.

Let us be champions and as programme unitss stand to be counted in ensuring that we make a difference in the spaces that have been provided for us.

Ladies and gentlemen

With this, I would like to declare the 13th EARHN meeting officially opened

Thank you


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