It is with great honour that I welcome all present here today on this auspicious occasion. I wish to extend a particular welcome to the UN team in Seychelles who have honoured us by choosing Seychelles as the venue for the UN Country Team Retreat which will start tomorrow. I also express my sincere appreciation to the members of the preparation committee from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Health and the UNFPA team for their valuable efforts in organizing this memorable launching ceremony.
This event which is also a regional launch of UNFPA’s State of World Population Report for 2019 is a testament to the valuable work of UNFPA and the great progress achieved around the world. This could not have come at a most opportune time, when the UNFPA is celebrating its milestone accomplishment of 50 years in existence since its launch in 1969.
However, it is crucial to note that this meeting is more than just a launching ceremony of the said report. Today, we also join in celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) which was adopted in Cairo, in 1994. Presently, its programme of action is more relevant than ever. 25 years ago in Cairo leaders realized the important inter-linkages between population, individual well-being and socio-economic development.
As we celebrate the remarkable progress we have made in advancing the health rights of people across the globe we must push for stronger actions and the reinforcement of international commitment so as to redouble our efforts to reach those who have not yet benefited from the promise of the ICPD.
The theme of this year’s report “Unfinished business: the pursuit of rights for all” reminds us that there is still continued work required to implement the action plans agreed in Cairo as well as contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. The protection of sexual and reproductive rights goes further than the issue of health. It’s about investing in our women and youths so that they can become fully functioning and engaging members of the society.
In the context of Seychelles the Government continues to support the ICPD and we will continue to lend our voice to this important subject. Since 1995, Seychelles enthusiastically pursued the implementation of the ICPD and we were the first in the Indian Ocean to take the lead on the national implementation of this important programme of action.
Seychelles today has a substantial reproductive health care service, as well as a comprehensive service to women before, during and after they give birth. Women and couples in Seychelles have access to family planning services which gives them the liberty of choice with regards to starting a family.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as a nation that has achieved remarkable success in these fields, we are also conscious of the different challenges that we need to overcome. Being a small island state with an aging population which if left unaddressed will leave major gaps in the workforce. We also continue to work with our stakeholders to address the issues of domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, which are quite detrimental to our efforts to achieve our set objectives in the areas mentioned above.
Today, as we engage on this platform, we have an opportunity, to make valuable contributions and share our expertise and experiences, so that we may conclude with viable, concrete and innovative recommendations.
I thank you.