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“As we approach 2015, it is time for urgent action by our governments, young people and civil society to re-affirm the rights of young people to a better future. We have a duty to make good quality HIV and sexuality education and sexual health services a reality for all.” Prof. Sheila Tlou, Director, UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa and Chairperson of the High Level Group
For the first time, national and regional leaders from health and education in Eastern and Southern Africa are joining together to review the evidence on young people’s sexual health needs and concerns, in order to mobilise political commitment, investment and intensified action across
21 countries in the region. This initiative has the potential to change the course of the HIV epidemic in the region and make quality HIV and sexuality education and youth-friendly services available to young people across the region.
Why this initiative?
As the post MDG global agenda takes shape, the continuing high rates of HIV prevalence in the region, the high numbers of children and young people living with HIV, new infections amongst young people, high levels of unintended pregnancy as well as other unmet sexual and reproductive health needs require urgent joint and coordinated action.
REGIONAL AND NATI ONAL PARTNERS
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC) will play a key role in facilitating dialogue at intergovernmental level. Civil society organizations, particularly youth led and youth-serving organisations, governments and a range of other
key stakeholders will be engaged at regional and national level.
The initiative is led by a High Level Group (HLG) composed of regional leaders in education, sexual and reproductive health and rights and development. The initiative is chaired by Prof. Sheila Tlou, former Minister of Health of Botswana and Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team (RST) for ESA. Members of the High Level Group include: H.E. Festus Mogae (Chairman, Champions for an HIV Free Generation); H.E. Salma Kikwete, First Lady of the United Republic of Tanzania; and David Coltart, Minister of Education, Zimbabwe, amongst others.
From February 2013 onwards, partners will be hosting national and subregional consultations which will provide recommendations for action on policy, funding, programme quality and implementation to the High Level Group and policy-level decision makers, culminating in a historic commitment signing ceremony by 21 countries at ICASA 2013.