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Media plays key role in promoting women’s health, rights towards fulfilling ICPD25, SDGs

Lao media agencies and communications officers from the line ministries and mass organizations discussed the role of media in promoting women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights towards fulfilling the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Commitment which is a stepping stone for the realisation of the SDGs and 9th NSEDP.

The workshop was organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) and the Ministry of Health (MoH) on Oct 26.

The workshop aimed to raise media awareness on critical ICPD issues: development and population, sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, including how they are set back by COVID-19. The workshop also provided space to discuss and strengthen partnership with the media in promoting and accelerating the ICPD implementation and the Noi ecosystem approach to achieve Noi 2030 framework results.

In her remarks, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment Phonevanh Outthavong emphasised the importance of the implementation of ICPD commitments, “which aligns with the National Socio-economic Development Plan (NSEDP) and the sustainable development goals (SDGs).”

She also expressed her gratitude to the solid partnership and support from UNFPA and other development partners in the ICPD implementation. “While we have made progress, there are challenges especially the current COVID-10 pandemic that may delay our implementation. Therefore, we must work together across all sectors including media to accelerate our action towards fulfilling the commitments in ten years,” she added.

Ms. Mariam A. Khan drew attention to the urgency of addressing COVID-19 impact across sectors. She said “Under MPI leadership, UNFPA Laos is preparing its 7th country programme (CP7) 2022-2026, aligned to national priorities and addressing COVID-19 impact. Innovation is required to tackle setbacks, not just maintain progress but accelerate so we can meet development targets”

The ICPD Programme of Action was remarkable in recognizing that reproductive health and rights, women’s empowerment, and gender equality are cornerstones of population and development. The Lao PDR is a signatory to ICPD committing to end maternal deaths, unmet need for family, gender-based violence, and harmful practices.

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges including disruption of Reproductive Maternal Newborn Child Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) services, posing the risk of increased maternal deaths and unplanned pregnancy.

Data and Assessment indicates the increase of violence against women, as well as the risk of child marriage and adolescent pregnancy due to increased dropout rate as a result of school closures. Mental health and psychosocial issues are clearly rising. These hamper the progress towards fulfilling national development targets.

Dr. Phonepaseuth Ounaphom, Director of Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion, MoH highlighted the importance of the continuity of the RMNCAH service by applying innovative telehealth which has been expanded to six provinces.

He also acknowledged the importance of the role of media in promoting maternal and child health including reproductive health. He said “the media can raise the awareness of women of reproductive age, pregnant women and mothers by providing information and motivating them to seek healthcare.”

Source: Lao News Agency