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Promoting global health is where Canadians come together

Canada is known around the world as a champion of global health. It’s a reputation that has been built on decades of continued Canadian commitment and investment that has spanned all parties and governments. When it comes to ensuring children’s rights and access to quality health services, Canadians agree: we have a duty to protect.

This week, the Government of Canada built further on this leadership by announcing funding for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) at the Family Planning Summit in London. This includes $15 million over three years to a UNICEF-supported project that aims to increase the knowledge of family planning and available options for at-risk adolescent girls in Ghana, as well as $15 million over five years to increase access to quality adolescent-specific nutrition and health knowledge and to provide youth-friendly SRHR services in Ethiopia.  

In Ghana, one in six young women aged 20 to 24 have given birth by age 18. In rural areas, coverage of skilled attendants at birth is 60 per cent, while just 22 per cent of newborns receive postnatal care within two days of their birth.

Health worker examining a pregnant woman
Asiya Abdu, 22, is examined by a health worker in the Worer Health Centre, a poorly equipped clinic near Undada Village, in Amibara District, Afar Region

In Ethiopia, the figures are even more bleak. One in five young women aged 20 to 24 have given birth by age 18. In rural areas, there is a skilled attendant at only five percent of births, while less than one per cent of newborns receive postnatal care within two days of their birth.

Women and girls’ right to health, including sexual and reproductive health, is universal, but it means more than simply ensuring an absence of sickness. Protecting reproductive health means protecting the right to complete physical, mental and social well-being in all matters related to a woman’s reproductive system. It means the right to receive information and education about SRHR, the right to confidentiality and privacy in accessing health services and the right to be free from harmful traditional practices. It means the right to be free from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse and the right to non-discrimination. It means putting women and children first.

To help UNICEF continue providing vulnerable women and children with access to quality health services, click here.

School girls in Ethiopia
Pupils socialize outside their classroom at Dima Guranda Primary School in Sebeta District in Oromia Region of Ethiopia.
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