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Transforming Health Care within reach, New Research says

The  price tag of ending preventable maternal deaths, eliminating gender-based violence and harmful practices, and meeting the family planning needs of women in high-priority countries in the next decade has been pegged at Sh.26.4 trillion ( USD 264 billion).

According to a new research released on Tuesday at the Nairobi Summit on International Conference on Population Development (ICPD), currently only Sh.4.2 trillion in development assistance is expected to be spent on advancing these goals.

What this means is that some Sh.2.2 trillion in investment is required over the next decade whether in the form of foreign investment, domestic allocation or private spending.

These  findings by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the John Hopkins University in collaboration with Victoria and Washington universities say achieving this results, will be a pre-condition of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Speaking during the release of the research findings , the  UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem said that set goals agreed by world governments would also generate cost savings over generations as healthier women and girls will be empowered to contribute their productivity and creatively to society.

“We now know how much and where we need to invest. These figures are a drop in the ocean compared to the dividend expected and the funds available,” Dr. Kanem said.

She added that this would be smart, affordable investments that will transform the lives of women and girls, their societies, and the world considering that the cost of inaction is much higher.

“We have a collective responsibility and opportunity to deliver on our promises now. We cannot wait another 25 years. It’s time to fill these resource gaps and make this a decade of delivery,” Dr. Kanem said.

According to the research, ending preventable pregnancy- and childbirth-related deaths in the 120 countries that account for over 95 per cent of maternal mortality will cost Sh.11.5 trillion (USD115.5 billion) in key maternal health interventions.

This includes paying for medical staff, drugs and obstetric supplies, and is roughly equivalent to 46 of the world’s most expensive military planes.

Ending unmet need for family planning in 120 priority countries which comprise the majority of low- and middle-income countries will cost Sh.6.85 trillion (USD68.5 billion) with the money going towards ensuring a steady, reliable supply of quality contraceptives and other efforts to strengthen national health systems.

And ending gender-based violence will require investing Sh.420billion (USD42 b) in 132 priority countries with the money going towards programmes that provide psychosocial assistance, medical treatment and rape kits to survivors, and promote the right of all women and girls to live free of violence and abuse, among other interventions.

Ending female genital mutilation will equally require Sh.240 billion (USD 2.4 billion) for interventions related to education and changing social norms in 31 priority countries. The research shows that just Sh.9, 500 (USD 95) can prevent a girl from having her genitalia cut for non-medical reasons.

Meanwhile the price tag for putting an end to child marriage is Sh.3.5 trillion (USD35 b) that would be enough to ward off 90 percent of child marriages taking place and what this means is that it only takes Sh60,000 (USD600) to spare a girl from becoming a child bride.

Victoria Chou, a researcher with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health however, says that these goals will require broad based action

“Without everyone pushing the oars together, the boat is not going to move far and if we are not in sync, we will simply turn in circles,” she said.

Chou added that closing the substantial gap with investment of urgently needed resources will ultimately improve health among women and their families and that vision is what should motivate all looking forward after the Nairobi summit.

According to the researchers, it is time to get the job done and with strong financing momentum, transformative results can be achieved and the ICPD Programme of Action completed to meet the Sustainable Development Goals on time by 2030.

The  Nairobi Summit organized by Kenya and Danish government aims to mobilize the political will and financial commitments to implement the Programme of Action agreed to by 179 governments in 1994 at the ICPD and confirmed unanimously in a political declaration in 2019.

By  Wangari  Ndirangu

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