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ED meets President, youths in Botswana

Gaborone, 4 March – UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin attended a High-Level Meeting on the Health Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Botswana from 4-6 March. Dr. Osotimehin joined a UN delegation paying a courtesy call on the President, His Excellency Sir Seretse Khama Ian Khama.

The delegation (WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sedibe) also made courtesy calls on the Vice-President, Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, and the Minister of Finance and Development Planning.

Dr. Osotimehin with the Vice-President of Botswana, Dr. Ponatshego Kedikilwe.

This was preceded by brief meetings with the UN Resident Coordinator, Anders Pedersen and the Representative, Aisha Camara-Drammeh. The expected outcome of the two-day High-Level Meeting is a roadmap on solutions to global health issues, with regard to the position of health sectors in relation to the MDGs. The meeting was opened by the President and attracted the participation of officials from governments, the private sector, academia, civil society and international organizations.

At the meeting, Dr. Osotimehin chaired a session on the theme, ‘What are the health priorities for the 15 years after 2015?’ The discussion focused on the unfinished health MDGs and emerging health priorities.

Later that day, the Executive Director held discussions with a group of young people on how to incorporate issues relevant to the youth into the review process for the ICPD and place adolescent and youth needs prominently on the map of the post-2015 development framework.

The Executive Director said that young people should be given the space and opportunity to contribute to national development. He noted that governments, together with their development partners such as UNFPA, have a responsibility to ensure that young people are equipped with information to educate themselves. In response, the participants expressed a desire to be acknowledged as ‘leaders of today and tomorrow’. They stressed that having embraced new technology they have managed to bring the world closer to them through ICT and thus they networked with each other using social media such Facebook and Twitter to develop their skills and knowledge. They highlighted the pressing need to be recognized and be given a chance to utilize the skills they have acquired. They made a strong call for internships to be given to youths during the course of their studies to gain experience. There was also consensus regarding the need for quality education, and that curricula should be designed to match the needs of the labour market.

The discussion with the Executive Director was organized by the Botswana Family Welfare Association (BOFWA) in collaboration with the UNFPA Country Office.

Dr. Osotimehin was interviewed on national TV prior to the start of the High Level Meeting. During the live coverage programme, he emphasized the need for provision of services to vulnerable groups, especially women and young people, to ensure safe pregnancy and prevention of loss of life during delivery for both mother and child. He urged MICs to address inequality in the distribution of resources and accessibility to services.

The Executive Director met UNFPA Country Office staff before departing on 6 March.

The Executive Director with a panel of youths during the discussion.