Vanuatu hosts 12th Biennial Conference for Pacific Society for Reproductive Health

REPRODUCTIVE health clinicians, researchers, academics, donor and development partners, policy makers and advocates from more than 15 countries gathered for the opening of the 12th Biennial Workshop and Scientific Meetings of the Pacific Society for Reproductive Health (PSRH) at the National Convention Centre in Port Vila.

The Conference, attended by approximately 300 participants, brought together representatives from American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Japan, New Zealand, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, United States of America and Vanuatu.

Participants will share success stories, good practices, research findings and lessons learned on reproductive health in the Pacific region.

The conference theme, “Reproductive Health and the Sustainable Development Goals – catalyst for accelerating progress”, sets the platform to explore innovative ways to deliver high quality reproductive health services for women and families in the Pacific.

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai delivered the keynote address at the conference with strong commitment from the Government of Vanuatu for investment in women’s health and reproductive health.

He recognised Vanuatu’s progressive trends in maternal and child health, with a reduction in number of maternal deaths per year over the past twenty five years; coverage of antenatal care and skilled birth attendants well over 75%; and reduction in the under-five child deaths from 58 per 1,000 livebirths to an estimated 27 per livebirths in 2016.

“Despite the reassuring data, much of our rural populations still do not have access to basic health services, especially those living in remote communities,” he continued, and stressed the importance of universal access to reproductive health care as a cornerstone to realising the 2030 Development Agenda, which aspires to leave no one behind.

The Prime Minister said “the use of contraception still needs more work.

“We have a high unmet need for family planning at 50%, resulting in high fertility rates and rapid population growth.”

He also highlighted non-communicable diseases as a leading cause of poor health and premature deaths in Vanuatu.

He also acknowledged the catalytic role of the Pacific Society for Reproductive Health (PSRH) in accelerating progress to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through universal access to high quality reproductive health.

Kathy Gapirongo, President of the Pacific Society for Reproductive Health, expressed the Society’s appreciation to the Prime Minister Salwai and the Minister for Health, Jerome Ludvaune, for hosting the 12th Biennial PSRH Conference in Vanuatu.