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Youth health and wellbeing: advocacy at the highest level | FutureLife-Now! on the programme at the SADC Health Ministers in Angola

Posted by Letswalo L Marobane on 14 February 2024, 13:15 SAST
Letswalo L Marobane photo

As the current chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), 2023 was Angola’s turn to host the annual meeting of Ministers of Health. Held in the capital, Luanda, from 25–28 November 2023, the meeting was attended by ministers and senior officials from the Ministries of Health, as well as those responsible for HIV&AIDS in the respective Member States, and with the stated aim of noting progress reports and adopting decisions on key regional health initiatives and priorities for the region.

Over an intense three days, delegates listened to presentations highlighting important progress made in the region on malaria, tuberculosis and HIV&AIDS. Presenters also introduced various data-tracking tools and new “scorecards” that will better track health priorities such as reducing malnutrition, eliminating malaria, health financing and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

The meeting made specific and important references to the need for oversight of adolescents’ nutritional health and the necessity for ongoing HIV education and prevention programming, particularly for young women and girls. It is therefore of significance that FutureLife-Now! has now, for the first time, been included in the annotated agenda as a programme of interest for Health Ministers. Jennifer Norins, monitoring and evaluation specialist for FutureLife-Now!, provided the meeting with an overview of the programme, highlighting the progress made in Phase 1 and the strategies planned for Phase 2. She emphasised to the ministers and officials FutureLife-Now!’s holistic and multisectoral approach and urged them to support resource mobilisation for implementing best practices. Leveraging on the exposure of the programme at the meeting, national FutureLife-Now! task teams will share progress on programme implementation and lessons learnt with the relevant units within Ministries of Health and advocate for their continued support.

During the opening ceremony, the Deputy Executive Secretary of SADC and Regional Directors of UN agencies praised Member States for the progress they have made in promoting health and wellbeing in the region. However, they also emphasised the continuing need for partnerships and resourcing to ensure that targets are met. The urgency for multisectoral collaboration and approaches was made clear as various speakers identified how issues of poverty and unemployment, climate change and access put pressure on key health targets such as eliminating malaria and reaching zero new HIV infections. And it is in these areas that FutureLife-Now! has much to offer the SADC Region through its holistic promotion of adolescent health and wellbeing. We therefore look forward to presenting progress in this regard at the next Health Ministers Meeting in Zimbabwe this year

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