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African ministers responsible for population and development re-committed themselves to fully implement the 20-year Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD PoA) by the time it expires in five years. The ministers expressed their recommitment at the end of a five-day meeting held between 19 and 23 October 2009 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to review progress made in implementing the ICPD PoA.

The ministers recognized the achievements made at the national, regional and continental levels so far, but expressed concern at the slow progress in the areas of poverty reduction, maternal and child health, gender equity and equality, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and youth employment.

The ministers pledged to renew and intensify efforts to mobilize necessary resources, improve national strategies and enhance institutional and human resources so as to accelerate the achievement of the goals of the ICPD PoA and MDGs between now and 2014.

Welcoming the ministers, Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), expressed satisfaction at the progress made by African countries to formulate national policies and legal frameworks to ensure the implementation of the ICPD PoA. But, he stressed there needs to be careful monitoring of the work being done.

"It is therefore important that we track progress that has been made thus far in the implementation of their provisions and recommendations while also determining what needs to be done in the remaining five years of the 20-year Programme of Action," he said.

Speaking on behalf of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Dr. Maxwell Mkwezamlamba, Commissioner for Economic Affairs, said the organization  has made significant strides in supporting global action as part of its contribution to the implementation of the ICPD/ PoA and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

"In this regard, several initiatives have been adopted over the last years, with the view to increasing political commitment, enhancing advocacy and giving high visibility to most of the socio-economic development challenges facing Africa", he added.

Some of these initiatives include: the Commission on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa dubbed (CARMA); the Maputo Plan of Action on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights; and the African Charter on statistics, which provides a framework for statistical development and harmonization in Africa.

Ms. Mari Simonen, UN Assistant Secretary General, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said ICPD@15 is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements, recognize the challenges ahead and recommit to the agenda that puts people first to foster sustainable human development.

This meeting, she said, "is the culmination of an extensive process that included a region-wide survey, country-level reviews, and an expert group meeting".

She urged the participants to identify strategic priorities for Africa to accelerate progress in implementing the recommendations as well as make the right decisions to ensure that reproductive health is considered as a political and financial priority at national levels.

Mr. Mekonnen Mayazewal Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for the Ethiopia government spoke of how his Government has domesticated the ICPD PoA.  It is important to accelerate public sector reforms to have institutions that are effective, efficient, transparent and accountable, he said. He emphasized the need for African governments to focus on domestic resource mobilization.

The four-day meeting brought together more than 250 delegates, including more than 30 ministers and representatives, along with experts and civil society organizations.