Summary Day 2

Working together and inclusively to build resilient health systems that support SRHR

The second day of the 18th International Dialogue on Population and Sustainable Development brought together all participants from across four time zones. After a welcome address by Maria Flachsbarth, Parliamentary State Sectretary to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and a keynote speech by Diena Keita, Deputy Executive Director, Programme, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), delegates were invited to take part in a virtual “fishbowl” discussion. The fishbowl discussion was a rich exchange of information with questions asked, expertise shared and energetic debates on how best to support SRHR services in the face of Covid-19. A more in-depth discussion of the fishbowl can be found here.

Maria Flachsbarth

Parliamentary State Secretary - Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany

Strong and resilient health systems are key

A central theme of the day’s discussions was the importance of ensuring strong and resilient health systems. In her welcome speech, Maria Flachsbarth, Parliamentary State Secretary to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, picked up on this and pointed out that building strong and resilient health systems is “part of our COVID-19 response, while ensuring that girls and women have continued access to the essential sexual and reproductive health services they require so that they can make their own free choices, also in times of crisis”.

Flachsbart stressed that, guaranteeing access to family planning is more important than ever before as 47 million additional women are currently at risk of losing supply of modern contraceptives as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. She warned of the serious consequences to their lives and their health and called on the international community to ensure this access, especially in times of crisis.

Aside from Germany’s bilateral engagement - which includes up to 100 million Euros per year for the BMZ initiative on Rights-based Family Planning and Maternal Health - Maria Flachsbart said Germany’s multilateral partners are well placed to reach most vulnerable populations and are therefore crucial in combatting these alarming statistics.

Diene Keita

Deputy Executive Director - Programme, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Leave no one behind

The day’s keynote speech was delivered by Diene Keita, Deputy Executive Director, Programme, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Keita took to the virtual stage to speak about the devastating effects the pandemic has had – especially on the most vulnerable – and called on the community to leave no one behind. Diene Keita said COVID-19’s impact extended beyond health issues and predicted it would also extend beyond the pandemic’s own lifetime. The current crisis is “exposing and aggravating existing vulnerabilities and inequalities” she said, “so let’s act together and leave no one behind”.

Frank Strelow

Vice President Sustainability - Bayer AG

Power of partnership

A clear thread running through the discussions was the importance of working together and sharing expertise, resources and a common goal in the face of COVID-19.

Addressing the delegates at the close of the event Frank Strelow, Vice President Sustainability at Bayer AG, summed up by stating that, “no one can make it alone”. He made a strong call to the community for joint commitment and, accelerated action and spoke of his confidence in what the SRHR community can achieve.

“We believe in the power of partnership”, he told the delegates, reminding them that the current crisis can only be tackled if governments, international agencies, development partners, civil society and the private sector all work together, now.

“The best way to tackle this situation is to collaborate, and to leverage the opportunities without ignoring the realities”, Strelow said. “We need exactly the optimism, determination and willingness for partnering I could see during this conference”.