News

New National Population Policy focuses on reproductive health and rights, women’s empowerment and the demographic dividend

29 August 2019
UNFPA Sierra Leone country representative, Dr. Kim Eva Dickson joins Government Ministers and the Statistician General in launching the new National Population Policy

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone28 August 2019 – The National Population Policy which aims to improve the quality of life for all Sierra Leoneans was launched today.

The new Policy aims to address population dynamics with an effective response to the needs and aspirations of the expanding youth population; and enhancing the reproductive health and rights for all Sierra Leoneans at every stage of their life.

The National Population Policy received technical and financial support from UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. The Policy outlines key measures to address critical population management and development issues. These issues include addressing reproductive health and rights; reducing adolescent pregnancy; building women’s empowerment; achieving education for all; and reducing mortality rates, which all align directly with UNFPA’s mandate.

In 1988, the first National Population Policy was formulated and approved by the Government in 1989. A Plan of Action was developed, implemented and guided with support from UNFPA.

In attendance at the launch, UNFPA Sierra Leone Country Representative, Dr. Kim Eva Dickson said, “I am pleased that reproductive health and rights is a priority area in this National Population Policy.” She added, “UNFPA continues to work closely with the Government to strengthen partnerships to provide sexual and reproductive health and family planning services; strengthen supply chain systems; and build capacity for the delivery of rights-based family planning services to address the persistent challenges and barriers that exist.”

High fertility rates coupled with a high unmet need for family planning over a long period of time have been the largest contributors to the country’s very young population. With a current population of 7,092,113 in Sierra Leone, of which 2,794, 883 (nearly 40 per cent) of the population are aged 15 – 35 years, there is significant potential for economic transformation and achieving the demographic dividend. Sierra Leone is projected to have a population of 10 million by 2030, and the new National Population Policy outlines the need to increase investments in youth, through health and well-being; education and skills, employment and entrepreneurship; and rights and governance structures to benefit youth, and effectively harness the demographic dividend.

Delivering the keynote address, on behalf of the Vice President, Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, Minister of Information and Communications, Mr. Mohamed Rahman Swarray said, “By launching our Population Policy today, our Government reiterates its commitment to improve the quality of life through the following: addressing population dynamics; enhancing the reproductive health and rights of all Sierra Leoneans; fast tracking socio economic growth and human capital in line with projected population growth; strengthening national capacity of relevant institutions to carry out appropriate evidence- based on population planning and management.”

The Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) developed in 1994 considered that reproductive rights are human rights. Reproductive rights embrace certain human rights that already form part of national laws in Sierra Leone. These rights include the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, timing and spacing of their children. However, twenty –five years since the ICPD, challenges exist in terms of recognising sexual rights, in addition to reproductive rights, ensuring universal access to contraceptives and comprehensive education for young people.

The new National Population Policy outlines that promotion of these rights for all people should be the fundamental basis for Government and community-supported policies and programmes in the area of reproductive health, including family planning and maternal health. Strengthening legislation in maternal health is cited as a key instrument to reduce maternal mortality and will have a positive impact on maternal and child health, by moving beyond policy towards legislation to save women and children’s lives.

Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Robert T. Chakanda said in his statement, “Our Government aspires to establish the fundamentals of sustainable development in Sierra Leone, providing the people with its benefits and preserving the country’s natural resources to fit the population size towards prosperity.”

The guiding principles for the National Population Policy are also aimed at ensuring that population growth does not hinder the achievements of the targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals.

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About the United Nations Populations Fund

UNFPA is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. UNFPA reaches millions of women and young people in 155 countries and territories. 

 

For more information, please contact:

Angelique Reid, UNFPA Sierra Leone Communications Specialist

Tel: +232 78340044

Email: areid@unfpa.org