Norway pledges US$1.1 billion to sexual and reproductive health at Nairobi Summit

The minister of development, Dag-Inge Ulstein, led the Norwegian delegation to the Nairobi Summit, which marked the 25th anniversary of the Cairo Action Program on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ICPD25).  

Norway is focused on sexual and reproductive health and had the most substantial financial commitment in Nairobi. Norway pledged to contribute NOK 10.4 billion (US$1.1 billion) to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the period 2020-2025. This includes NOK 760 million (US$83 million) for efforts to eliminate harmful customs for the period 2020-2023, as well as NOK 1 billion (US$109 million) to prevent sexual violence in humanitarian situations until 2021. 

9,500 delegates from 170 countries attended the conference. The participants represented authorities, civil society, the private sector, and professional communities.  

Press release - Norwegian government (in Norwegian)

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Norway launches first-ever strategy for fighting non-communicable diseases

Norway is the first country in the world to launch a strategy for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in developing countries. The guidance package is titled 'Better health, Better lives' and is set for the period 2020-2024. The strategy is based on the World Health Organization’s recommendations on how to prevent NCDs.  

Over 70 percent of deaths worldwide are caused by NCDs such as cardiovascular disease, cancers, respiratory disease, diabetes, and mental illness. These diseases are an important cause of premature death in low- and middle-income countries, but only 1-2% of the world’s total health investments today address NCDs. Norway is tripling its contributions to this purpose and will allocate NOK 200 million (US$21 million) for 2020 and increase funding towards 2024. 

The strategy addresses three main areas;   

  1. Strengthening primary health care services;
  2. Preventing risks in air pollution, tobacco, alcohol consumption, and unhealthy foods; and
  3. Strengthening the normative work and health information systems.

Press release - Norwegian government (in Norwegian)  

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Norway increases support for sexuality education in partner countries

The Norwegian government has announced an additional NOK 75 million (US$8 million) to support comprehensive sexuality education in partner countries. Sexuality education can promote gender equality by enabling an inclusive learning environment and improving girls' school attendance. It can reduce stigma around menstruation and helps to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies, and abortions.  

The funding will support the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (Unesco) global campaign on sexuality education and will be disbursed between 2019 and 2021. It will target four priority countries: Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and South Sudan. 

Press release - Government of Norway 

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Norway launches strategy to eliminate harmful practices

The Norwegian government has launched its International Strategy to Eliminate Harmful Practices as part of the global community's commitment to eliminating them by 2030 as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The new strategy sets out how the Norwegian Government will target its international activities to eliminate harmful practices between 2019 and 2023. The strategy calls for zero-tolerance on harmful practices and aims to defend global norms, including sexual and reproductive health and rights. It argues that fulfilling the rights of women and girls is a basic prerequisite for eliminating harmful practices.

Government strategy

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New director-general appointed to Norwegian development agency

Bård Vegar Solhjell has been appointed the new director-general of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad).  Solhjell will leave his current position as secretary-general of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Norway. 

In addition to his experience with WWF, Solhjell previously held positions as minister of education and research (2007- 2009) and minister of the environment (2012- 2013). He has also served as deputy leader of the Socialist Left Party, as a member of the Norwegian parliament, and as state secretary at the office of the Prime Minister. 

Norad is an agency under the ministry of foreign affairs and is responsible for managing much of Norway’s assistance to low-income countries. In 2020, the agency will be responsible for administering NOK 17 billion (US$2 billion).  

Press release - Norwegian government


Gates Foundation urges collaboration to eradicate polio

Dr. Jay Wenger, director of polio eradication at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, discussed the need for collaboration and aligned efforts to eradicate polio, in a new opinion piece in the Norwegian newspaper, Bistandsaktuelt. 

When the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was established in 1988, polio ravaged 125 countries with 350,000 cases a year. Over the past three decades, huge progress has been made in fighting the deadly virus that causes paralysis; last year, there were only 33 cases in two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The program has prevented paralysis for an estimated 18 million people.

If the world deescalates its efforts for extinction now, Wenger says, polio will flare up again and may paralyze up to 200,000 children every year within 10 years. Renewed political and financial commitment is necessary to cover the US$ 3.3 billion in funding needed to get the polio job done. Extermination efforts have already resulted in US$27.0 billion in savings since 1988.  

Op-ed – Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)  

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WHO and Red Cross urge action from world leaders on pandemic preparedness

The secretary-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Gro Harlem Brundtland, and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Elhadj As Sy, are urging world leaders to avert the next pandemic. Today, no country's authorities have fully funded or implemented International Health Regulations, the foremost international health security agreement that all countries have signed.

The authors of the opinion piece state that the world is unprepared if a fast-moving airborne pandemic should occur. The world's leaders are not doing enough to make vaccines, diagnostics, and medications available at the necessary scale. Should a pandemic break out, there are not efficient funds to avert serious social harm.

The two authors urge state leaders to think further into the future and increase funding at the local, national, and international levels needed to strengthen health systems, improve our response capacity in crises, and counteract outbreaks.

Op-ed – Bistandsaktuelt (in Norwegian)

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Norwegian minister of foreign affairs speaks to UN Security Council on women’s role in peacebuilding

Norway’s minister of foreign affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide, spoke on behalf of the Nordic countries on women, peace, and security in an open debate at the UN Security Council. In the statement, she emphasized that the inclusion of women in both peacebuilding and peacekeeping will lead to better odds at lasting peace. Inclusion entails including different women: rural and urban, women of all ages, differently-abled, indigenous women, and women of different sexual orientations. 

Research links gender-based violence and gender inequality to the vulnerability of society to civil war and conflict. In the statement, Søreide announced that Norway will support the International Fund for Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence. 

Speech transcript - Ine Eriksen Søreide 


Norway increases support for humanitarian relief in South Sudan

Norway is increasing its humanitarian assistance by NOK 30 million (US$4 million) to help save lives and meet basic needs in South Sudan. 7.2 million people are suffering in humanitarian crises, according to the UN, now exacerbated by heavy rains and flooding. 

This contribution brings Norway’s total allocation to humanitarian assistance in the country and support for South Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries to a total of NOK 172 million (US$21 million). In addition, Norway has provided around NOK 11 million (US$1 million) through the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).   

Norway’s support will be channeled through humanitarian actors that are present in South Sudan and can respond to the humanitarian needs rapidly and effectively. 

Press release – Norwegian government  

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Norway launches strategy to combat human rights violations against girls and women

On the UN’s International Day of the Girl Child, October 11, 2019, the Norwegian government launched a new strategy with the intention to contribute to the elimination of 'harmful practices', defined as violations of human rights that predominantly affect girls by harming their health, depriving them of educational opportunities, or curtailing their participation in working life and society.   

The strategy is in cooperation with Plan International Norway. Civil society actors and religious leaders will be important partners in this work, particularly with regard to changing attitudes in local communities. 

Press release - Norwegian government 

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