Jagdish Upadhyay visits Burkina Faso
2nd April 2008
Coalition Executive Committee member Dr Jagdish Upadhyay, responsible for the management of reproductive health (RH) commodities in UNFPA's Head Office in New York, visited Burkina Faso from March 10-15 to get a sense of the realities on the ground and support access to RH commodities. During that visit, he was interviewed by local publication Sidwaya - here below are extracts of the interview.
Sidwaya: What was the objective of your visit to Burkina Faso?
Jagdish: To better understand the realities on the ground and support the government's effort to access RH commodities by meeting with government authorities and partners. I also used this opportunity to exchange information about UNFPA's Global Programme and visit health facilities.
Sidwaya: What does the Global Programme consist of?
Jagsish: The Global Programme aims at commodity security, which is a concept similar to food security. Through this programme, we hope to ensure that every person from Burkina Faso will have access to RH products and services every time they need them, and that the cost of these products will make them accessible to all. This is one of the activities that UNFPA carries out in Burkina Faso.
Sidwaya: What is your opinion of the RH programmes and mothers in Burkina?
Jagsish: What we have seen in Burkina at the moment is that fertility is high at six children per women on average. Maternal mortality is also high. We also see a pandemic of HIV/AIDS, despite the fact that the rate of HIV prevalance is going down and is relatively low compared to other countries. When women give birth to lots of children it is the quality of life and the health of the mother and children that suffer as do the health of the community and the entire nation. Our objective is to save the lives of women of Burkina. We would like to work to improve the health of women and fight against HIV/AIDS. So in summary, RH commodity secutiry aims to support the efforts of the country in the accomplishment of the Millennuium Development Goals (MDGs): improve maternal health and the health of the child, and combat HIV/AIDS.
Sidwaya: During your exchanges with the authorities, did you get the impression that you were speaking to a receptive audience?
Jagsish: Yes, absolutely. I met several important figures of Burkina including the President of the National Assembly, the Minister of Economy and Finance, the State Minister and the Minster of Health. With the Minister of Health, we agreed on the importance of reproductive health as we observed that the country is commited to this aspect. The government is really engaged and working on reproductive health and we are trying to find ways to support Burkina in its progress. What we need to do now is to see where the bottlenecks are. We need to have a precise idea of the needs to see how UNFPA and other stakeholders can work together under the leadership of the government. We cannot and do not want to work alone. We want to work with partners for development and the government and under its leadership. We consider health in general and the fight against poverty in particular as an important priority for the country. In fact, our objective is to contribute to the acheivement of the MDGs for development, particularly MDGs 4, 5 and 6. We need to think about how we can contribute to saving women, youth, children and men. This is the our objective and the government seems to be really commited.
Sidwaya: Should the Global Programme be linked to a repositioning of family planning and a limit in the number of births?
I prefer to speak in terms of policy and quality of life than number of children and limiting of births. If a woman has six children, that affects her health and often the health of her children and the household economic resources. Demography is important but maternal health and spacing of births are equally as important. Good family planning can save the life of several women and contribute to increasing the family's quality of life. So you are right, we are concerned and this programme called RH commodity security has been initiated for this reason. We would like the population to have access to information and products and we hope that this programme will be very successful.
Sidwaya: Why did UNFPA choose Burkina as a pilot country for the programme?
Jagdish: Because we are satisfied with the engagement of your government as far as RH health is concerned. Your programmes are very well set out, people and the authorities are engaged and international partners are accompanied in their work. I think that the country can very easily make a big difference.This is a challenge because Burkina needs more resources to continue the struggle against poverty, but the climate is such that we think that Burkina can become a model for other countries. That is why we chose Burkina as a pilot country but we will choose other countries afterwards.
Click here to see the article as it appeared in French.