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The Youth Reproductive Health National Forum

By Sopo Datishvili
Thursday, November 27
On November 25, 2008 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Committee of Healthcare and Social Issues of the Parliament of Georgia hosted the National Youth Reproductive Health Forum. The Forum was conducted in the framework of the EU/UNFPA co-funded (EU 86% and UNFPA 14%) project “Reproductive Health Initiative for Youth in the South Caucasus” (RHIYC).

The National Youth RH Forum is an annual activity, which gives the opportunity to all stakeholders (representatives of legislative and executive branch, non-governmental organizations, independent experts, medical professionals and youth) to meet and discuss existing situation, policy and strategies, to elaborate country vision and agree the most effective ways to address the challenges in the field of Youth Sexual&Reproductive Health and Rights.

The forum was opened by the First Lady of Georgia Mrs. Sandra Elizabeth Roelofs, who at the same time is the chairperson of the CCM (Country Coordination Mechanism) RH (reproductive health) and NC (National Council)

“When we care about reproduction, we care about our future generation as well. I’m glad that this issue is very actual in our country”, she added.

Mrs.Sandra Roelofs also mentioned three spheres which should share the responsibility of informing society about reproductive issues. These were the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, educational branch and cultural sphere, as there can be created special films, promotional campaigns and other arrangements for informing the society in a right way.

Mr. Martin Klauke, the Head of the Operations Department of European Commission Delegation in Georgia stated that, ”The youth reproduction is very important for Georgia. That’s why it is so highly supported by European Union, which financed it by EUR 2, 5 million. Today this forum aims to identify further challenges in our way”.

Mrs. Tamar Khomasuridze, the Assistant Representative of UNFPA Georgia, introduced to the audience the results of the recent Reproductive Health researches conducted by the UNFPA about the reproductive health.

Mrs. Khomasuridze mentioned that the priority for the organization is to raise the public awareness on reproductive health issues as the index of birth-rate in Georgia is sufficiently low and the index of abortion is still high. This is not the only result caused by the lack of information. High Prevalence STIs and HIV/AIDS infections are also one of the main problems as well. It is also worth mentioning that 92% of these women were infected from their constant partners.

The forum was opened by the short documental film dedicated to the South Caucasus Youth Festival 2007, held in Batumi in the frame of RHIYC project. The aim of the South Caucasus Youth Festival was to promote healthy lifestyle among young people, change their attitudes and behaviors towards harmful practices to prevent them from: tobacco, drug and alcohol abuse, HIV/AIDS and STIs and raise their awareness about their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights issues.

Experts of RHIYC project presented to forum participants results of various project activities.

During the Forum representatives of the Parliamentary Committees on Healthcare and Social Issues, Education, Science and Culture, Foreign Relations, European Integration, Regional Policy, Self-Government and Mountainous Regions, Sports and Youth Issues, corresponding Ministries, international, youth and non-governmental organizations, Patriarchate, experts had very fruitful discussions on importance of Reproductive Health and Right and necessity of development of appropriate policies, concepts and financial provision of this sphere.