UNFPA: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 8 April 2023:
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) West and Central Africa Regional Office welcomes the high-level Ministerial Commitment for Educated, Healthy and Thriving Adolescents and Young People in the region, endorsed by Ministers of Education and Health from 24 countries in the region, in a meeting held in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, under the WCA [West and Central] Commitment.
The Commitment speaks to a clear progression towards achieving Goals 4-10 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on health, education and gender equality.
The WCA Commitment serves as a platform to strengthen the Region in its quest to attain the demographic dividend, by ensuring access to wide-ranging education and health services to adolescents and young people.
Governments in the region have been working on the creation of an enabling legal and policy framework for the provision of youth friendly sexual and reproductive health services.
Since 2020, 18 countries held consultations to explore tangible recommendations for comprehensive information and education, which formed the basis of the Commitment.
UNFPA welcomes this historic ministerial commitment by member states in the Region as a demonstration of the importance they accord to investing in the capacity of adolescents and young people, including in comprehensive sexuality education as a critical element to forming healthy and educated citizens.
UNFPA stands with the global community in support of regional partners, national and local governments, frontline practitioners, civil society actors and young people themselves, to advance age appropriate, evidence-based and timely comprehensive information and education on SRHR for adolescents and youth all over the world, in both formal and non-formal settings, with a special focus on the most vulnerable and left behind.
The WCA Commitment comes against a backdrop of extremely high maternal mortality estimates for the West and Central Africa, in the recently published 2020 report on maternal mortality estimates by international inter-agency technical working group.
In some countries in the Region, upper primary and lower secondary school dropouts are high due to teen pregnancy. Teen fertility ranges between 100 and 189 per 1000; 2 in 5 girls are married before the age of 18.
Access to age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education will go a long way to ensuring that girls remain longer in school and ensuring Rights and Choices for all, towards inclusive and productive societies.