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West and Central Africa faces huge challenges in ensuring equitable access to maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health services. 
 
The region has the highest total and adolescent fertility rates in the world and unacceptably high maternal mortality rates, at 679 deaths per 100,000
live births.
 
It also has the highest population in sub-Saharan Africa but an insufficiently skilled health personnel to meet the demand for health services. The recent 2014 Ebola outbreak clearly underlined the weakness of existing systems in a significant number of countries.
 
In response, UNFPA has adopted a holistic and integrated approach to these challenges and is working with governments and other partners towards its goal of delivering a world where ‘every pregnancy is wanted and every childbirth is safe’.
 
 

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West and Central Africa’s population is predominantly young, representing a huge resource for the region. However, a lack of access to health, education and employment is holding these young people back.
 
UNFPA recognizes the critical importance of investing in adolescents and youth to harness the demographic dividend in West and Central Africa. The potential of the youth population to positively contribute to the realization of the demographic demographic will only succeed if there are significant investments in lowering fertility rates, improving maternal mortality rates and educating and empowering young people.
 
UNFPA’s West and Central Africa Regional Office (WCARO) has embraced this strategy and is using the organization’s four modes of engagement: high-level advocacy and policy dialogue; knowledge management; service delivery and capacity development to bring about the necessary changes.
 

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UNFPA showed great agility and leadership in its response to West Africa’s 2014 Ebola crisis, receiving recognition locally, nationally and internationally for its contribution.
 
The organization maximised its financial and human resources by swiftly reallocating budgets and funds and reassigning staff.
 
It recognised that tracking and monitoring the health of all those who had had contact with Ebola sufferers was the key to containing the spread of the disease.
 
UNFPA provided investment and training to contact tracers and mobilized the community to become both decision and change makers, using local leadership structures and the media.
 

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In 2015, UNFPA demonstrated effective delivery of humanitarian assistance in a number of crises, including ensuring psychosocial support for the victims of Boko Haram in Nigeria and supplying thousands of reproductive health kits to health facilities in the Lake Chad Basin region.
 
It used advocacy and policy dialogue to advance the humanitarian agenda, bringing together governments to address cross-border issues and maintaining a relationship with policy makers which kept the plight of the vulnerable current and visible.
 

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UNFPA welcomes the ongoing negotiations that led to the release of 21 Chibok girls and is expected to lead to the release of more girls who were kidnapped from the north-eastern Nigeria, including the remaining Chibok Girls. 
 

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The first half of 2016 was an era of transition for UNFPA Sierra Leone. There was a change in leadership with a new Country Representative assuming office, a shift from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as from Ebola surveillance to recovery.
To meet the demands of the new SDGs unveiled in 2015 and to best meet the national post-Ebola President’s Recovery Priorities, UNFPA Sierra Leone country office also began to realign its 2015-2019 country programme with the objectives of the SDGs.
In our quest to save women’s lives and to empower adolescents and youth the Country Office implemented a number of activities aimed at keeping issues that matter high on the agenda. We also worked to build the capacity of our partners and those on the ground to deliver quality services to the people who need them most.

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This newsletter presents the highlights of the visit of the Director of UNFPA's West and Central Africa Regional Office to the Republic of Congo. During his visit to the Congo, Mr. Mabingue Ngom, had the opportunity, through field visits and meetings with partners, to see for himself the reality on the ground. Congo might be an orange country, but looking back at his visit, the Regional Director confessed that UNFPA Congo’s challenges are the same, if not worse, than those faced by red LIC’s. Despite the challenges, UNFPA Congo is seeking new ways to improve its orange mind-set, it might be a though neighborhood with a lack of resources, but by thinking and acting orange, the office is constantly seeking new ways to make the impossible possible.

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Hosted by the President of Burkina Faso and co-organised by UNFPA and the World Bank during the 71st session of the UN General Assembly, this high-level dialogue will showcased the Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend initiative. It helped reinforce political commitment and stakeholder support to #PutYoungPeopleFirst ahead of the 2017 Summits of the African Union Heads of States and Government, which will focus on the theme of “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through investments in Youth”.

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The landmark High-level dialogue was hosted by the President of Burkina Faso and co-organised by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund and the World Bank during the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly. 

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In this issue of UNFPA Liberia's newsletter: 
·         UNFPA and Swedish Govt. Sign agreement to empower Young People
·         UNFPA and partners Observe World Population Day (11 July)
·         Renewed Collaboration to end obstetric fistula in Liberia
·         MoH with support from UNFPA begins rollout of tool to monitor EmONC
·         Fistula Programme graduates 35 survivors from skills training center
·         MoH and partners adopt new family planning Strategy

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