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The Republic of Vanuatu (Vanuatu) has endeavoured to incorporate gender and rights into its national and provincial sexual and reproductive health (SRH) programs. This report reviews Vanuatu’s rights-led approach to health and social development, and presents the results of a detailed Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) Needs Assessment. The work was commissioned by the national Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) Committee, funded and supported by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, UNDP and UNFPA, and was conducted by the Vanuatu Reproductive Health Consultant, on behalf of the Ministry of Health.
The SRHR Needs Assessment, conducted in November and December 2014, comprised a comprehensive desk review and analysis of data, followed by provincial consultations with health service managers and providers, and key informant interviews with national public health program managers, NGOs, service providers and technical advisers. Consultations were guided by UNFPA’s SRHR Needs Assessment Tools for SRHR, and HIV (Appendix 3), and collected information on family planning, prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV, and gender based violence was verified through a number of site visits to health facilities.
Commitment to rights-based health and social development: Vanuatu remains committed to upholding the human rights of its citizens, and particularly those most vulnerable, such as females, children and young people. This has been documented through the National Constitution, and signing of a range of international conventions and treaties, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1995), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1993), the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2007) and a number of conventions under the auspices of the International Labour Organization.
Special commitments have been made towards upholding the SRHR of Vanuatu’s citizens through promotion of gender equity and equality, and these commitments have been documented within the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Plan of Action, the Millennium Development Goals and most recently through the Moana Declaration 2013 and the Pacifi c Sexual Health and Well-being Shared Agenda 2015-2019. At the national level, the National Population Policy 2011-2020, the Vanuatu Priorities and Action Agenda 2016-15 and the National Reproductive Health Policy 2008 together prioritise gender- and rights-based approaches to:
- Safe motherhood: improved delivery of quality antenatal, perinatal, postpartum and newborn care.
- Promotion and delivery of quality family planning services.
- Improved delivery and access to SRH services for adolescents.
- Prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.
- Addressing of gynaecological morbidities, including abortions, cancer, infertility and menopause.
- Prevention and management of cervical cancer.
- Prevention and management of sexual violence and violence against women.
- Establishment and maintenance of Reproductive Health Commodities Security.
At the core of these SRHR priorities is the commitment to ensuring all individuals and couples have the right to make informed decisions about the number, spacing and timing of pregnancy, and that they are provided with the information and means to do so, in order to choose and maximise their potential to develop as individuals, and within households and communities.