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A five-year programme titled Integrated Programme on Family planning and Sexual and Reproductive Health among Adolescents and Youth (2019-2023) funded by the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and supported by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, was launched today. The programme which will be implemented with a total budget of close to USD 3.5 million is expected to complement efforts at strengthening the capacity of adolescents and young people to make informed decisions on their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

“Let’s create a favourable environment where the young peoples’ sexual and reproductive health and rights are promoted and protected, even in humanitarian settings,” said Mr. Seunghwan Shin, Deputy Resident Representative of KOICA in Ethiopia, at the event. “The sexual and reproductive health and family planning challenges of young people in Ethiopia cannot be underestimated,” he added.

The Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey (2016) estimates maternal death among young age groups 15-19 years and 20-24 years contributed to 17.4 % and 28.7% of all the deaths respectively.

The programme strives to empower adolescents and youth by making choices and services available as well as developing the capacity of healthcare providers and institutions to ensure informed choices. It is also expected to bolster efforts to strengthen key social behaviour change communication platforms to enhance service seeking behaviours.

Making remarks on the occasion, Bettina Maas, UNFPA Country Representative, said the programme complements UNFPA’s efforts at strengthening the capacity of adolescents and young people to make informed decisions on their sexual and reproductive health and rights. She added that “this is critical in realizing safe transition of adolescents and youth to fulfil their potential.”

The programme intends to ensure that comprehensive adolescent-friendly services are also included in humanitarian response in light of the fact that it will be implemented in areas affected by humanitarian emergencies. The programme will be implemented in selected districts in the Guji and Gedeo Zones of the Oromia and SNNP regions respectively.

The conflicts in the two zones which have resulted in hundreds of thousands of displaced persons have increased the vulnerability of adolescents and youth to HIV, sexually transmitted infections and other sexual & reproductive health problems, and sexual and gender-based violence. The existing health system and services have been seriously weakened by the situation impacting access to sexual and reproductive health information, counselling and services. The programme strives to ensure that the needs of adolescents, especially young girls, who are vulnerable to sexual violence, are addressed in a meaningful way.

The programme launch event was attended by the representatives of relevant sector bureaus from the Oromia and SNNP Regions, KOICA, UNFPA, implementing partners of the programme, adolescents and youth and other invited guests.