Pacific Parliamentarians on youth sexual and health

Published: Tue 5 Jun 2012 04:46 PM
Large group of Pacific Parliamentarians gather to hear why Pacific young people face a high risk of poor sexual and reproductive health
Wellington, 5th June 2012:
A large group of Pacific parliamentarians will meet at the New Zealand parliament on Monday for an Open Hearing on ‘Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Pacific.” The Open Hearing is hosted by the NZ Parliamentarians Group on Population and Development (NZPPD), in collaboration with Family Planning International and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Ministers and parliamentarians from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Samoa will join with New Zealand parliamentarians to hear submissions from a wide range of individuals and organisations working in the field of adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights in the Pacific.
“We have held several Open Hearings on specific population and development issues in the past, and they have proved highly useful for us as parliamentarians to gain a more thorough understanding of some of the challenges people in the Pacific face to enjoying sexual and reproductive health and rights. We are then able to use the information to encourage action at the highest levels on these issues,” says Dr. Jackie Blue MP, chair of NZPPD.
With 56% of the total Pacific population estimated to be 24 years or younger, young people make up a significant portion of the Pacific population. Socio-cultural determinants such as young age at marriage, gender inequalities, poverty and poor access to sexual and reproductive health and rights information and services have resulted in adolescents in the Pacific experiencing a disproportionate burden of reproductive morbidity and mortality. Teenage pregnancy rates in the Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands are among the highest in the world.
“Young people in the Pacific are the future of the region and it is vital that this message hits home at the highest levels of leaders and policy makers so that crucial investments are made before it is too late. For the Pacific to achieve its development goals, we need to start investing in the youth, so that they have opportunities in their future and can actively participate in the development of their societies”, says Sumi Subramaniam, Director International Development at Family Planning International.
High level stakeholders from around the Pacific, including United Nations officials and Ministry representatives, are expected to attend the one day event, along with NGOs and research institutions. Most importantly, young people representing the youth of the Pacific will also be attending and presenting to the parliamentarians.
Following the Open Hearing NZPPD will produce a report with recommendations about where urgent action is needed.
The NZPPD is cross - party, with currently 47 members representing just fewer than 40 percent of all New Zealand MPs. The group has provided a forum for New Zealand parliamentarians to engage and act on international population and development issues for 14 years. The NZPPD has a particular focus on the Pacific region, where the population and development challenges remain great. Family Planning International houses the NZPPD Secretariat.

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