A New Zealand MP, Asenati Lole Taylor, says there has been overwhelming support in Kiribati for a report addressing adolescent sexual and reproductive health.
The report, by the New Zealand Parliamentarians Group on Population and Development, highlighting the high rates of adolescent pregnancy, physical and sexual violence and the prevalance of sexually transmitted infections in the Pacific, was presented in Kiribati this week.
Asenati Lole Taylor says the focus in Kiribati has been to improve education on sexual health issues..
ASENATI LOLE TAYLOR: Educating the young girls and young boys at school, and asking the Ministry of Education to take a lead role in introducing education in the area of sexuality and reproductive health rights within schools in order to have the young girls and young boys better informed.
DON WISEMAN: And the response of the Ministry of Education to that is?
ASENATI LOLE TAYLOR: The response so far has been absolutely positive. The response we've received in the last two days not only from the Speaker of the House but the members of parliament who attended the launch, they see our coming over here as one way of providing huge support to them, giving them opportunity to utilise some of the ideas that we have highlighted and some of the recommendations in the report. They did identify and raise the issue around how they will be able to cope with coming back from school and talking about sexuality and reproductive health education in the homes because the culture plays a huge role and will have an impact on how effective or how efficient this report can be implemented in Kiribati itself. So they now have to focus on the approach - what are the relevant strategies and what is the approach that they need to take, taking into account their culture in order for the message to get to the people of Kiribati.
DON WISEMAN: You need to talk to the adults as well. So how are you going to do that?
ASENATI LOLE TAYLOR: Well, here in Kiribati, New Zealand provides funding to an organisation called .... and this organisation, the funding that they're using helps them to do screening for the adults or for the mothers, because some of the parents here they seem to have nine to eleven children, the majority of them. So they're going to do the education for adults using the clinics. But the second part of that is also having mobile clinics that will go out to the villages. If I could just raise the point here that the people of Kiribati do not want to go to the hospital because they don;t want to be seen to be going to the hospital around the issues of getting pregnant and so on. The process we're adopting is going out to the villages where the people can then go and access, but also promoting, the message of family planning. Also it's about happy families. 70 to 80 percent of the population here in Kiribati are of Catholic parishioners. Catholics, as you know, are very much opposed to contraception and so on. So we also now need to look at what are the alternatives to those obvious contraceptive devices that are being used in order for the Bishop and the Catholic community in Kiribati to accept the need for them to play a role towards the managing of the population of Kiribati.