The United Nations Human Rights experts have called on the Samoa Government officials to lend more assistance to the country’s sexual and reproductive health agenda and reduce their dependency on international assistance.
In their report the Group Work indicates that despite the establishment of the 2011/2016 National Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy aiming at improving family planning in the country, modern contraceptive prevalence remains low (at about 30%).
The report also says the Demographic and Health Survey, the average fertility rate is rising and estimated at 5.1 children per woman, the highest in the Pacific region.
“This increasing fertility represents major challenges for the development of the country, with large families representing a considerable burden for the households,” according to the Preliminary Report.
“In view of the limited capacities of the state health services, a non-governmental organisation, funded by international partners, is trying to fill the gap in terms of family planning, prevention (including S.T.I.s testing) and counselling services.
“In order to address the issue of accessibility, this N.G.O. reaches out to the villages once a month, via mobile nurses, conducts prevention actions and provides contraceptives for minimal costs (or for free when women cannot pay).”
The Working Group strongly encourage that such initiatives be adequately and sustainably supported, including to reduce their dependency on international assistance.
“Furthermore, we call on the government at the highest level to give resounding and public support to the sexual and reproductive health agenda and refrain from undermining family planning.”
“Our group is concerned at the increased prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (S.T.I.’s).”
“We were informed about efforts to make condom boxes more available.”
“We hope that the 2017-2022 H.I.V./A.I.D.S. and S.T.I’s policy will be duly implemented and accompanied by the necessary actions and resources in order to combat this very acute public health issue.”
“We learned that H.I.V. testing is made available in hospitals for free, but that hospitals sometimes run out of supplies thereby making tests unavailable.”
“We are alarmed at the high rates of teenage pregnancy (9%), which lead to stigmatisation, exclusion and fines in certain villages,” according to the preliminary report.
“In this regard, we reiterate our view that the Ministry of Education ensure, as a key prevention measure, that comprehensive scientific-based sex education is systematically provided in schools to all children entering puberty, despite the current reluctance of teachers to conduct such courses due to cultural barriers.”
“We also strongly encourage support to initiatives such as the Youth Friendly Drop-in Center which provides counselling services and contraceptives.” “Given the high rates of teenage pregnancies (higher in rural areas) and proliferation of STIs, such services would be optimal if they could also be provided in rural areas and free from the requirement of the consent of parents,” says the U.N. report.”