Women and children were the priority for the Catalysts 4 Change – Achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Women, Children and their Families Conference in Auckland in early August.
The conference was jointly hosted by TAHA (University of Auckland) and the Pacific Society for Reproductive Health with a focus on New Zealand’s growing Pacific population and across the Pacific region. The conference raised awareness of the recently ratified SDGs and the universal determination to progress a range of indicators by 2030.
“The survival, health and well-being of women, children and adolescents are essential to achieving the SDGs.” says Dr Rufina Latu of the World Health Organisation.
“This will require the use of the best available knowledge for action, as well as investment in new research and innovation.”
Latu says that the SDG era is a time for action. “We know the problems, we know the causes, we know the solutions – it is time to make bold actions to save lives and improve socio-economic well-being”.
Although the new 17 sustainable goals are based on the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, many Pacific Island countries were unable to meet these.
The conference attracted a number of prominent speakers.
Matafanua Hilda Fa’asalele – Ministry of Health’s Chief Advisor Pacific Health, says the overall quality of the presentations and the general discussions that followed were excellent.
But the key now is to ask what actions can realistically be taken to achieve the SDGs.
“There are goals aimed at reducing child poverty, which is very real in Pacific communities here and across the region,” she says.
“But the only way we can address some of those challenges is by engaging in the framing of our nation’s policies, because policies determine the way forward. It’s about registering to vote, putting yourself up to be elected for your local DHB, voting for the parties that you think will best support your families.”
Much of the discussion was based around the Growing Up in New Zealand antenatal report which recruited 6822 pregnant women and 4401 of their partners.
Interviews for the Antenatal Data Collection Wave were completed in June 2010 with further data collected after the child was born at nine months, two years, four and a half years and six years.
TAHA Manager Jacinta Fa'alili-Fidow, said the high calibre of presentations and data available showed the clear need for the health sector to work more with Pacific families when they’re at a younger age.