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The Aspen Institute Announces 2013 Resolve Award Winners

April 11, 2013  • The GLC Secretariat

Recognizes the Gambia, Kenya, Zambia, and Sierra Leone for Innovations in Reproductive Health Funding, Policies, and Services

Washington, DC, April 11, 2013 ––Family planning and reproductive health is a game-changing intervention that saves lives, money, and jumpstarts development. Yet those who are working to expand access to these vital services face significant political, logistical and resource challenges.

 Today, the Aspen Institute announces the winners of the 2013 Resolve Award, which recognizes countries that are surmounting various challenges to bring essential reproductive health services to their people.  Three countries—the Gambia, Kenya, and Zambia, with a special mention given to Sierra Leone—will receive the Resolve Award for demonstrating leadership and political will.

On 22 May, 2013, Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health (GLC) member Joy Phumaphi will present the Resolve Award to representatives of each country at a ceremony during the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. 

 “The Resolve Award winners show us that, even in the most challenging environments, progress can be made,” said Peggy Clark, Executive Director of Aspen Global Health and Development and Vice President of Policy Programs at the Aspen Institute. “With ingenuity and commitment, these leaders are pushing the frontiers of reproductive health.”

 The Resolve Award celebrates the exceptional progress these four countries have made toward ensuring that family planning and reproductive health services are accessible to all of their citizens. The Award is named for the resolve shown by these country’s leaders in finding innovative solutions despite limited resources and other challenges.  The 18 high-level members of the GLC are determined to advocate for universal access to reproductive health and voluntary family planning services at the highest of levels, and congratulate their peers and fellow leaders for maintaining their own resolve.

 Today, there is a growing global consensus on the value of family planning and reproductive health.  Yet, while more people than ever have access to these services, 222 million women in developing countries still have an unmet need for family planning. Those who are working to meet that need—in some of the poorest, most remote regions of the world—face daunting obstacles, from the opposition of local leaders to resource constraints and bad roads.

This year’s Resolve Award winners, selected from a robust pool of nominations from countries around the world, showcase groundbreaking innovations in service expansion, financing and policy development:

In the Gambia, unpaved roads and an aging fleet of vehicles kept healthcare workers from visiting rural communities. To solve the problem, the Ministry of Health leveraged public and private funding to purchase a new fleet of ambulances and all-terrain vehicles, then outsourced their maintenance and operations to Riders for Health, a not-for-profit with decades of experience in medical transport. The result has been a dramatic improvement in health care delivery.

In Kenya, previous policies on population and reproductive health—typically drafted by ministry staff—failed to muster broad political support. The solution? Kenya’s National Council for Population and Development launched a three-year effort to engage citizens and leaders in developing a visionary new policy, created by and for the Kenyan people. Through a national leaders’ conference, Parliamentary forums, meetings with district leaders and public advocacy, the Council energized home-grown support for family planning and reproductive health. Their efforts produced a comprehensive Population Policy for National Development— approved by Parliament in 2012—which places family planning at the center of Kenya’s development agenda.

A decade ago, Zambia’s health indicators told a grim tale of suffering, with some of the world’s highest rates of HIV/AIDS and maternal and child mortality. And years of “structural adjustment” had decimated the country’s health and social service sectors. But in recent years, the Zambian government has redoubled its commitment to primary and reproductive health, increasing spending in those areas by 50%. Today, family planning and maternal and child health services are provided free of charge in the public sector, and Zambia is scaling up an acclaimed HIV program that works to prevent maternal-to-child transmission. These efforts are producing results: for example, contraceptive use increased from 15% to 41% over the last twenty five years.

Most family planning and reproductive health programs are designed to reach and serve women. But the Fambul Initiative Network for Equality (FINE) in Sierra Leone sprung from an important insight: often, men serve as the gatekeepers to family planning.  From traditional chiefs who control community resources to husbands who beat their wives, men can be a formidable barrier to women’s attainment of health and rights. But—when educated and informed—men can also play a positive role. For this insight, the GLC will be honoring Sierra Leone with a special mention for its small but mighty efforts to train and mobilize men to educate their peers about women’s rights and reproductive health. FINE advocates have reached some 10,000 chiefs, husbands and religious leaders. Their efforts are reducing the incidence of rape and gender-based violence and raising awareness of reproductive health and rights.

The Resolve Award was launched in 2011 by Regina Benjamin, U.S. Surgeon General and member of the GLC, to recognize country-led innovations that result in increased access to family planning and reproductive health. In 2012, the first annual Resolve Award was presented to delegates from Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda and Nepal with a special mention to Yemen, for their extraordinary efforts to increase access to reproductive health. Join this year’s webcast on 22 May at www.aspeninstitute.org/live to watch the ceremony and participate via Twitter by following @GLCRHresolve and #Resolve.

While the Resolve Award showcases remarkable achievements, there is much work to be done.  Please join the GLC in congratulating not only the Award winners, but all leaders maintaining their utmost resolve to achieve universal access to family planning and reproductive health services.

For more information, please contact Elise Mann at [email protected] or at +1.202.736.5836.