“Urgent action now for adolescents or face worldwide repercussions”, appeals the UN Secretary-General’s Independent Accountability Panel at the Georgian Parliament
Parliament of Georgia, Tbilisi, 6 February 2018
The UN Secretary-General’s Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) for Every Woman, Every Child, Every Adolescent launched its report on Transformative Accountability for Adolescents in the Parliament of Georgia, hosted by the Hon. Ms. Mariam Jashi, Chair of the Education, Science and Culture Committee, and Hon. Dr. Akaki Zoidze, Chair of the Health and Social Affairs Committee. The occasion was facilitated by IAP Member Dr. Giorgi Pkhakadze of Georgia.
In presenting the report’s recommendations, IAP Co-Chairs Carmen Barroso and Kul Gautam urged “smart policies and smart investments now” in adolescents or the world will face grave repercussions from inaction. Adolescents, who number 1.2 billion or 1 in 6 of the global population, are the key for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Too often, however, they remain invisible in public policies and budgets.
“Accountability for them is urgent”, they affirmed. Adolescence is a stage of life when attention to prevention is also “most cost-effective”, yielding multiple savings and benefits for societies and economies. It is essential to start prevention of non-communicable diseases early, including through the school system, to avoid poor eating habits and smoking among adolescents–a major issue in Georgia—and avert huge costs to public health systems and budgets later in life. Investing in adolescent girls must be a priority, who face alarming levels of violence, harmful practices and early pregnancy across much of the world.
In their reactions, the Georgian dignitaries shared important initiatives underway to improve women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health, despite the limited budget available–including to end maternal mortality. School reforms to improve student safety, anti-tobacco legislation and drug abuse are among the topics of parliamentary focus and recent public debate. The discussion on universal health coverage particularly resonated in the context of health sector reform and the privatization of health services, noting Georgia’s Solidarity Fund and the impressive achievements reported; while acknowledging “adolescents must be more visible” in policy-making.
Asserting that “healthcare is not a standard market product”, the legislators emphasized the importance of ‘watchdog functions’ to secure equity and quality when engaging the private sector in service delivery. They also affirmed the need for ‘whole-of-parliament’ action, alongside whole-of-government approaches to adolescents called for by the IAP, and pledged to continue their efforts to align with the IAP’s recommendations.
During the IAP Members’ mission to Tbilisi, a dedicated session was also held with the UN Resident Coordinator and representatives of the UN H6 Partnership supporting the Global Strategy, with UNAIDS, UN Women, UNICEF, UNFPA and WHO in attendance. A frank exchange ensued on the status of women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health and universal health coverage in the country, and the equity gaps and challenges faced to leave no one behind.
In addition, IAP outreach to a leading youth network in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Teenergizer, served to engage them in follow-up to the IAP 2017 recommendations on adolescents, as well as to invite their
perspectives and experiences on private sector accountability issues.
In follow up to the IAP delegation’s visit to Georgia, IAP Member Dr. Giorgi Pkhakadze met with Ms. Ia Makatsaria, Executive Director of the Solidarity Fund of the Prime Minister’s Office. He also further disseminated the IAP findings and recommendations to health providers, government officials and NGOs gathered for a workshop on TB Ambulatory Model Management, and at meetings organized by the Georgian Medical Students Association (GMSA) and David Tvildiani Medical University highlighting the importance of ensuring universal health coverage for adolescents.
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