To be or not to be? Is The Maputo Plan of Action up for Question?
The Maputo Plan of Action (MPoA) has long been acknowledged as the principle sexual and reproductive health and rights commitment in Africa. It was signed in 2006 for implementation by 2010 but was then extended to 2015 because most of the goals had not been achieved. Now as the commitment is up for renewal again, and within the context of the renewal of the ICPD (International Conference on Population Development) and M/SDG (Millennium/Sustainable Development Goals) commitments, the debate has begun as to why and whether the MPoA should continue to exist.
The discussion of the continuing value of the MPoA began at the MNCH (Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health) Task-Force meeting, held by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations in December 2013 and attended by AIDS Accountability International. The aim of the meeting was to follow up on the previous efforts to harmonise the Maputo Plan of Action (MPoA) indicators and the need to monitor the implementation of the International Conference on MNCH in Africa Action Plan (Johannesburg 2013) as well as develop an online platform for data capture and reporting by member states.
Central to this discussion was the future of the policy documents that are about to expire in 2015, one of them being the MPoA. There was a call from civil society that the MPoA should be extended to 2030 in order for countries to deliver on the goals that are lagging behind. Other critical concerns on the MPoA was that the “MPoA has been made very controversial” and that this has not been well accepted by African government leaders. A strong view that the MPoA should continue was expressed but concerns about the associated indicators were raised, especially those that are deemed more forward thinking, for example those relating to men who have sex with men, and abortion. There was some discussion around whether these would need to be changed in order to keep the MPoA alive. It is currently not clear what that change in the indicators might mean for implementation and thus the discussion needs to be continued with various experts.
AAI is of the opinion that the MPoA is critical to the attainment of the global development goals and that without it progress on vital sexual and reproductive health and rights issues will lag and possibly halt in Africa. The MPoA is paramount to the continuing accountability on these issues. Importantly, in the AUC’s most recent State of the African Population Report (Harnessing the Demographic Dividend for Africa’s Socio-Economic Development, 2012) it was recommended that “in order to benefit from the demographic dividend and ensure good governance is practiced, governments need to prioritize addressing gaps in health access, including sexual and reproductive health services for young people and women.” The report went on to state that “emphasizing the importance of health for young people improves economic outcomes for countries. The provision of health in order to have a healthy work force must focus on key populations who are hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, maternal mortality and other health indicators. In this context, unsafe abortion should be addressed as the cost to health systems of treating the complications of unsafe abortion is overwhelming, especially in poor countries.” (SAPR – AUC, 2012) The MPoA obliges countries to report on their SRHR progress with the submission of data on a regular basis and this work needs to be improved upon and extended in order to improve transparency and accountability.
The role of the MPoA is key to this process of economic development on the African continent and in response to this need, AAI is now beginning work on an MPoA Extension Strategy document which will lead us to consult with a variety of stakeholders on how and why it is best to ensure the extension of the MPoA and thus the related CARMMA campaign. For further information please find the relevant contact on the contacts page