PRESS RELEASE – Finland increases its support to UNFPA Somalia to accelerate access to inclusive Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights services

the Finnish Flag. Photo credit: Wikipedia
the Finnish Flag. Photo credit: Wikipedia

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic access to maternal, sexual and reproductive health services are under a heightened risk. It is vital to invest in maintaining the functioning of the health sector not only during these challenging times but also afterwards. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland has increased its contribution to the UNFPA Country Programme (CP) by EUR 2 million and support to the UNFPA Covid-19 Response with EUR 1 million. These follow an earlier contribution of EUR 3 million, bringing the total contribution to the UNFPA CP to EUR 6 million in 2020. The increased support safeguards the availability of and access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services to all women and girls as well as strengthens the capacity of Somalia health institutions to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The partnership between Finland and Somalia dates back decades. Somalia is a long-term development partner of Finland, especially in the health sector. Finland is committed to continuing its long history of supporting the development of the Somali health sector in order to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity in the country.

The possible impact of Covid-19 on the Somali health sector, economy and population is estimated as sever. The Government of Finland will support Somalia to mitigate some of these impacts. As a response to the immediate needs, Finland is providing an additional funding of EUR 1 million to the National Preparedness and Response Plan to Covid-19 through the UNFPA Preparedness and Response to Covid- 19 Plan. The additional funds will ensure the continuity of life-saving SRHR services for crisis-affected women and girls in internally displaced persons (IDP) settlements and host communities and strengthen the national laboratory capacity to test and response to Covid-19.

The UNFPA Representative, Mr. Anders Thomsen, said the funding from Finland is significant to UNFPA’s work especially now as it is coming when the UN agency is working with the Federal government of Somalia and parnters prioritize the particular needs of women and girls while responding to the COVID- 19 pandemic. “As with most crises, this pandemic has severely disrupted access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health services and hampered efforts to respond to gender-based violence, at a time when women and girls need these services most. “We are very thankful to the Government of Finland for this very generous funding which will ensure that we continue with such services,” said Mr. Thomsen.

Finland’s Ambassador to Somalia Erik Lundberg is concerned about the strong, negative effects the COVID pandemic has had on the life of women and girls in Somalia and around the world. “In these times of crisis, we want to intensify our efforts, together with UNFPA and the government, to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity in Somalia”, emphasized Ambassador Lundberg.