Ministers of education, health, gender, and youth in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA), expressed support to continue their joint efforts towards creating a brighter future for adolescents and young people in the region by empowering the youth and protecting their health and well-being to achieve the common goals. Eight years ago, Ministries of Health and Education from 20 countries - supported by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC) – joined forces with regional UN organisations to agree on a joint commitment, known as the ESA Commitment. They recognized the urgent need for more systematic scale up of sexuality education and youth-friendly SRH services in the region. While important strides have been made toward improving sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) outcomes among adolescents and young people, significant gaps and barriers still exist to the realization of the ESA Commitment targets. An evaluation of the 2013 commitment revealed progress in reducing new HIV infections, increasing comprehensive HIV knowledge and creating a conducive policy environment. However, the evaluation also indicated that accelerated efforts are urgently needed to reduce early and unintended pregnancy, gender-based violence and curb the effect of humanitarian emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This further underscored the need to renew the commitment, through expanding and aligning it with the SDG Agenda 2030. Extensive consultations at national and regional level with governments, adolescents and young people, communities and development partners across sectors led to a new updated regional commitment and targets for 2022-2030.
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