©AfreePress-(Lomé, 6 March,2019)-On the 5th of March the Canadian ambassador Dr. Heater Cameron located in Accra, came to visit UNFPA projects in Togo. She, and her husband are staying in Togo for a week, to visit several development projects in Togo.
The United Nations Population fund in Togo (UNFPA) organized a tour to show the ambassador, the work that the UNFPA does in cooperation with other local organizations in Togo.
The UNFPA has developed several clinics for Togolese youth all over the country, for STD and HIV prevention. These clinics also focus female (reproductive) health in general, teenage pregnancy and sexual assault.
The UNFPA tour started at Lychee Agoè, a high school were the UNFPA has built an clinic for the students. At Agoè, the UNFPA explained how they, with the help of these clinics, are trying to reach the youth and try to educate them on HIV and STD’s. This clinic has female employees only, to ensure that the girls feel confortable to discuss their health issues.
The ambassador took the time to speak with the nurses and discuss how especially girls benefit from this clinic. She was in particular happy to see the large enrollment of girls at the high school.
Togo’s overall female enrollment is extremely low with only 40% of girls enrolling secondary school, the number that actually graduates is even lower.
Female enrolment in secondary school is extremely important for the development of the country as a higher enrolment equals less teenage pregnancy, less children and overall higher life standard.
This fact together with the global HIV epidemic which, has almost 1 out of 5 people in West-Africa infected with the HIV virus, motivated the UNFPA in Togo to invest in these clinics.
The Ambassador at the UNFPA supported clinic in Agoè.
The tour continued in Tabligo, a town located 80 km estern of Lomé. This clinic has separate doctors’ offices for boys and girls, as well as male and female nurses to make sure everyone feels comfortable.
What made this clinic stand out was their direct connection to the towns hospital as well as their class room for sex education.
After the ambassador took a look around the facility we sat down in the class room, some of the female (ex-)patients shared their experiences with the clinic.
All the girls were satisfied and showed their gratitude for being able to use this facility. The facility employees, explained how the clinic’s success is largely depended on the community work that has been done. The community of Tabligo had to be shown that the clinic is an initiative by Togolese people for Togolese people instead of a western aid program. Therefore the facility works on a voluntary basis and is free.
The ambassador Dr. Cameron took the time in Tabligo to make a statement on behalf of Canada and its interest in these projects.
The ambassador stated that she has been in working in and on Africa for over 20 years now. The continues growing amount of people with HIV in West-Africa is worrisome according to her.
She has lost many people close to her to this disease, friends and employees at the embassy, which has motivated her even more to fight this disease. Her objective is zero, new HIV infections. Even though vaccinations and research for cures is important, prevention of the disease by education for both women and men has been a priority for her.
Canada wants to improve their involvement in the world as a bilingual country and therefore invests more in West-African francophone countries. This includes Togo, her visit in Togo this week is to reinforce the Canada-Togo partnership.
Furthermore does Canada considers human rights in general as important but especially, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as the most effective way to reduce poverty and built a more inclusive peaceful world.
Therefore she will, besides from female reproductive health an HIV/ STD prevention, also focus on the abolition of child marriages in Togo, with support of Canada’s Fund for Local Initiatives.
Women gather around the ambassador in Sika Kondji
The last stop of the tour was the village of Sika Kondji, were a mobile clinic is located today. Upon arrival women were waiting under the large trees in the middle of the village to welcome the ambassador.
This final stop showed how beneficial the clinics are and how even rural areas are incorporated. The ambassador ended the day with stating that she looks forward to (financially) contributing to the further expansion of these clinics. This tour organized by the UNFPA has been in order to strengthen the Canada-Togo partnership and hopefully work together on future development projects in Togo.