In February 2019, the Government launched Ireland’s new international development policy, A Better World. Building on Ireland’s track record in delivering for the poorest and most vulnerable, A Better World seeks to realise the transformational pledge of the Sustainable Development Goals – reaching the furthest behind first.
Improving the quality and availability of health services with a strong focus on maternal and child health has been a longstanding component of Ireland’s development cooperation programme. Access to health services, including access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, is fundamental for realising Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and transforming women’s health outcomes.
A Better World commits to a new initiative around Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, building on our partnerships in health and HIV and AIDS. In line with the new policy, the Government has taken steps to deepen and expand on our existing partnerships in this area.
My Department is scoping the range of interventions and partnerships that Ireland currently support in the area of SRHR to inform how we plan to further deepen our support and engagement on SRHR in line with our new policy commitments, and to ensure coherence between our international development work and our domestic legislation and policies. This will inform the continued implementation of our commitments around SRHR in A Better World and the increased allocation of funding in this area in line with the government’s commitment towards achieving the UN target 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) to be allocated to Official Development Assistance by 2030.
In October this year, my Department committed to increase our support to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Ireland will increase its funding to the Global Fund in the next replenishment cycle by at least 50% bringing Ireland’s funding to at least €45 million over the 2020-2022 Sixth Replenishment period. This significant financial commitment will support the acceleration of global efforts to end the epidemics of AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria worldwide.
My Department is also supporting key partners including UN agencies, UNFPA, UNAIDS and UNESCO that are working to increase access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services. Ireland has also committed to providing at least €250 million over the next five years to global education with a focus on improving access to quality education for girls, and access to education in emergencies. This commitment includes support for partners working on programmes that focus on providing young people with the knowledge and information they need to protect themselves from HIV, including through keeping girls in school and supporting comprehensive sexuality education.