Stakeholders Push To Enhance Sexual Health Efforts In Pacific

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

News Release

Secretariat of the Pacific Community Suva, Fiji

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The rights of groups at risk of poor sexual health will be a key part of the development of the Pacific Sexual Health and Wellbeing Shared Agenda 2014–2018; an enhanced approach to improving the sexual health and wellbeing of men and women in the Pacific.A two day consultation with civil society organisations working directly with at risk groups such as women, youth, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people will begin today at the Holiday Inn in Suva, Fiji.

‘Sexual and reproductive health and rights are the final frontier. For us in the Pacific, it is one of the main concerns for women, youth and LGBTI groups,’ says Kris Prasad from Drodrolagi Movement, a network advocating for LGBTI rights in Fiji.

Populations typically at high risk of poor sexual health and wellbeing include marginalised groups such as sex workers and their clients and partners, and victims of assault and intimate partner violence.

‘Often these populations are stigmatised and are not always able to easily access health services,’ says Michelle O'Connor, PRSIP Coordination and Liaison Officer with SPC’s Public Health Division.

‘To provide effective services to all Pacific Islanders, we must better understand those at greater risk of poor sexual health and wellbeing and what their needs are. We plan to discuss this during the two-day consultation,’ says Ms O'Connor.

SPC is leading the development of the Pacific Sexual Health and Wellbeing Shared Agenda 2014-2018. The Agenda, currently in development, will replace the Pacific Regional Strategy for HIV and other STIs, which ends this year.

‘The Shared Agenda sets out the vision for addressing sexual health in the region, as identified by 22 Pacific Island governments, regional partners, civil society organisations and at risk groups,’ says Ms O'Connor.

‘It examines how best to deliver comprehensive sexual health services and programmes to address interrelated sexual health issues, such as STIs and HIV, unintended pregnancy, gender-based violence and the promotion of positive, healthy relationships.’

‘I am thankful to be a part of the Shared Agenda because it’s everybody’s work. We’re talking about people’s lives. It’s a positive vibe. We’re looking into the future with optimism,’ says Vani Dulaki, Executive Director of Fiji Network Plus.

A research report on sex work and HIV/STI prevention in the Pacific region will be launched on the first day of the consultation, Thursday 29 August, at 12:30pm.

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