Eastern Province Permanent Secretary, Mr. Chanda Kasolo addressing delegates during the 1st tripartite meeting on SRHR HIV Knows No Border. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

IOM, the UN Migration Agency, Hosts Tripartite Cross Border Meeting for Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights

IOM, the UN Migration Agency, in partnership with the Government of Zambia and Save the Children hosted the first ever Tripartite Cross Border Meeting on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and HIV Knows No Borders project from 2nd to 3rd November 2017 in Chipata, Eastern Province, Zambia. The project aims to contribute to improving SRHR-HIV Outcomes for Migrants, Adolescents and Young People and Sex Workers in Migration-Affected Communities in the project countries including Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.
 
The purpose of the international meeting was to exchange experiences, expertise and ideas on sexual and reproductive health and HIV service delivery and uptake in border-lying districts of the three countries where the project is being implemented, namely Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi. The meeting was attended by stakeholders from Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi, with Botswana present as an observer.  The project targets adolescents and young people, sex workers, migrant and host populations along the transport corridor.
Speaking about the event, the IOM Zambia Chief of Mission, Ms. Marianne Lane, noted: “It is important to have a forum where sub national stakeholders from various sectors can periodically meet with counterparts from neighbouring countries to discuss issues of common interest in addressing SRHR – HIV and mixed migration issues. This meeting will provide an ideal platform to discuss such issues, including referrals across borders.”

Mr. Chanda Kasolo, Eastern Province Permanent Secretary for the Republic of Zambia, was guest of honour for the event. During his opening address he stated that: “Integration, as opposed to working in silos, is the way forward to reaching our developmental goals. In this regard, I wish to commend the International Organization for Migration and Save the Children (Zambia), in collaboration with the Provincial Health Director in Eastern Province and the Provincial Aids Coordination Advisor for coming up with this great initiative of hosting an important international dialogue on the SRHR-HIV Knows No Borders”. 

Delegates from Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia at the SRHR HIV Knows No Border Meeting in Chipata.

The Permanent Secretary added that “resources and expertise are not enough to address the huge demands concerning various issues affecting the people and highlighted that working together was a better way to serve the people in an integrated approach in line with the Government policy direction for the developmental agenda.” He further explained that some of the challenges that the SRHR HIV Knows No Borders project addressed in the respective countries include “alcohol and drugs abuse, early sexual debut and unprotected sex among young people, resulting in teenage pregnancies and school drop outs by the adolescent girls.” The Permanent Secretary highlighted that at the current time there is an inconsistent supply of commodities such as condoms and test kits, as well as difficulties in having the means to access information and the health facilities, which is a significant challenge facing many communities in the Eastern Province.

“Migration challenges experienced include movement controls as well as migrants being used as cheap labour and being denied access to health and other services have resulted in the call for such an important dialogue meeting,” said Mr. Kasolo. He said interchange of ideas would contribute to an improvement in service delivery to the people in the three countries as well as better coordination and communication mechanism. The project beneficiaries will benefit from improved service delivery including enhanced cross border referral mechanisms and client follow up, Mr. Kasolo said. He commended IOM Zambia and Save the Children International Zambia for providing financial resources to the two local Community Based Organisations (Chisomo and Young and Happy).

Implementation of this programme was made possible with financial assistance from the Royal Netherlands Government.