From January 24 - February 15, 2021, a high-level mission of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) conducted by the Regional Director for Africa, Marie-Evelyne Petrus-Barry, went respectively to Senegal and Guinea to explore opportunities to better anchor the IPPF action in West and Central Africa through the establishment of a new sub-office and the strengthening and diversifying of its partnerships in the region.
In Senegal, the mission met with relevant authorities, including the Minister of Youth, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Women, Family and Gender, the Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Organizations Director to lay the foundations for the opening of a new IPPF Africa Regional Office (IPPF ARO) sub-office for West and Central Africa in the country.
This new sub-office will enable IPPF to better support its West and Central Africa Region Member Associations and increase its local relevance and partnership with human rights and development organizations, sub-regional economic commissions and the donor community in this part of Africa.
The authorities met by the delegation encouraged this initiative. According to Jean Antoine Diouf, Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "IPPF's support to access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services is much appreciated and reinforces the actions of African governments ".
The Minister of Youth, Nene Fatoumata Tall, also expressed her enthusiasm regarding the future establishment of a sub-office of IPPF in Senegal, wishing for frank collaboration between her department and IPPF on youth issues. “The changing environment and the high-demand for SRHR services would be better served by an IPPF presence in the sub-region,” she said.
The mission also held discussions with International Organizations working in the same fields as IPPF such as Amnesty International regional office for West and Central Africa, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), both at country and Regional levels and OXFAM with a view to creating joint programs and projects or strengthening existing partnerships, with a special focus on the support, protection and defence of Human Rights Defenders working in the field of reproductive health and rights.
In Dakar, the delegation also met the Senegalese Association for Family Welfare (ASBEF) Volunteers to discuss the challenges of future collaboration.
In Guinea, the delegation met with the IPPF Member Association “Guinean Association for Family Welfare (AGBEF)” to finalize the Association's accreditation process and visit some of its SRHR delivery facilities. An affiliate member of IPPF since 1989, AGBEF is a Guinean non-profit NGO, founded in 1984 with the aim of reducing infant and maternal mortality in Guinea. Today it provides a wide range of SRHR services including family planning, child delivery, screening and care for People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), comprehensive sexuality education and SRHR training courses.
The delegation also held meetings with Guinean authorities, including the First Lady, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Education, to discuss the strengthening of the collaboration framework between the country and IPPF in the field of SRHR in Guinea, and more particularly on CSE. During the meeting with her, the First Lady, Conde Djene Kaba expressed her gratitude to IPPF and its partner AGBEF for the efforts made since 1984 to provide quality sexual and reproductive health services in Guinea. She welcomed the visit of IPPF's Regional Director to the country and expressed her unwavering support for AGBEF's initiatives for young people, women and underserved populations in Guinea.
The high-level mission was concluded with a visit to the NGO Solidarité Suisse-Guinée in Labe, south of Guinea, to assess the possibility of a collaborative partnership in the fields of SRHR, including the fight against female genital mutilation.
During this visit, the delegation had opportunity to visit the NGO's grassroots achievements among which three community health centres providing sexual and reproductive health services with financial support from the Guinean NGO. The managers of the various centres warmly welcomed the mission, testified to the importance of the current and future support provided by the NGO to their structures to meet the growing needs of the local populations in terms of health in general and SSHR in particular.
The discussions held with the Governments of Senegal and Guinea, as well as the different international organizations working in the same field than IPPF laid the groundwork for future collaboration on SRHR issues in general and protection and defence of Human rights defenders working in the field of reproductive health and rights in particular. The visits to IPPFARO member associations and collaborative partners in these two countries also reinforced the federation’s cohesion with a view to better address challenges and better serve populations.
Story by Moctar Menta, Content Specialist, IPPF Africa Regional Office.