An estimated 52 young people are newly infected with HIV every hour in Eastern and Southern Africa, 60% of which are young women. To address HIV and other sexual and reproductive health issues UNAIDS, UNESCO and partners are co-convening the first meeting of a High-Level Group for Eastern and Southern Africa, taking place in Gaborone, Botswana from 30-31 July 2013.
The Group is overseeing an ambitious regional initiative that will generate high-level political commitment from country leaders in the education and health sectors to expand access to good quality, gender-sensitive, sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services. This commitment is expected to support governments, civil society and communities to make a decisive impact on new HIV infections, unintended pregnancy and gender-based violence in the region. The First Lady of Tanzania, Salma Kikwete is among the supporters of the initiative.
The High-Level Group meeting aims to:
- Review and validate findings of a regional study: Young People Today. Ready for Tomorrow? , a new and in-depth report into the health and education status of adolescents and young people in the region.
- Bring these findings to the attention of Ministers of Health and Education through highlighting key messages and opportunities for advocacy.
- Advise on the draft commitment to be signed by Ministers of Health and Education, building on existing regional frameworks on sexual and reproductive health, gender, HIV and education.
Participants expected to attend the meeting include all members of the High Level Group , UN partners, bilateral and other donors, regional coordination partners, young people’s representatives and civil society organisations.
This meeting marks a significant moment in the countdown to a final summit meeting in December 2013 when Education and Health Ministers from 21 countries are expected to agree to scale up sexuality education and health services for adolescents and young people in the Eastern and Southern Africa region by signing a regional commitment.
The commitment will be backed up by a monitoring framework with clear roles and responsibilities for government, civil society and development partners. The signing ceremony will be held on 7 December 2013 in Cape Town as a pre-conference event of the International Conference on AIDS & STIs in Africa (ICASA 2013).
The regional report “Young People Today. Ready for Tomorrow?” presents data on a the urgent health and social challenges facing young people in the region including HIV, untended pregnancy and gender-based violence. Recommendations health services and sexuality education will directly contribute to the ministerial commitment. The report will be published by UNESCO in October 2013.