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Global Leaders Gather in Lusaka to Discuss Progress and Challenges in Reproductive Health, HIV, and Gender-based Violence

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA (9 April 2015) — National and global health leaders gathered in Lusaka for Ideas with Impact: Working in Partnership to Save Lives in Zambia, a Population Council symposium on the latest efforts to improve lives and protect health for women, men, and adolescents.

The symposium brought together more than 100 government officials, researchers, policymakers, development partners, community members, and civil society from all provinces in Zambia for a full day of information-sharing and debate on the latest scientific progress in addressing the country’s complex socioeconomic challenges, including high rates of HIV, limited access to maternal and reproductive health resources, and gender-based violence.

Participants discussed and deliberated new evidence by the Population Council and partners that shows how safe spaces and innovative financing mechanisms are empowering adolescent girls and enabling them to thrive, the best ways to reach populations most at risk for HIV infection, how community compacts are helping to prevent new HIV infections, and how health care–seeking behavior is reducing gender-based violence.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all Zambian mothers could go through pregnancy and child birth safely, if gender-based violence were a thing of the past, and if all those at risk for or affected by HIV had access to the treatment, prevention options, care, and support they need?” asked Julia Bunting, president of the Population Council. “I hope that together, we can continue to address these critical health and development issues and make a difference in people’s lives around the world.”

The Population Council began working in Zambia in 1975 providing fellowships to Zambian researchers to train in critical areas of health and development, including biomedical, social science, and public health research. Today, the Population Council employs more than 60 experts whose research is helping to deliver higher-quality client-centered care to women seeking contraceptive information, services, and supplies; inform policies and programs to reach the most vulnerable and marginalized girls; and improve how HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support programs and services are designed and delivered.

Ideas with Impact: Working in Partnership to Save Lives in Zambia showcased the work and perspective of the Honourable Emerine Kabanshi, Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health; and national and global health and development partners, including Ian Askew, Director of Reproductive Health, Kenya, Population Council; Elwyn Chomba, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health; Henry Damisoni, Senior Strategic Information Adviser, UNAIDS; Reuben Kamoto Mbewe, Director, Zambia Ministry of Health; Jacob Mufunda, WHO Representative, Zambia; Jabbin Mulwanda, Director General, National AIDS Council; and Mary Otieno, Country Representative, UNFPA.

“This symposium is an example of the kind of collaboration we need to continue to advance reproductive health, reduce HIV infections, and ensure our women and girls lead full and productive lives,” said Michael Mbizvo, DPhil, Zambia country director and senior associate at the Population Council. “This type of sharing—of ideas, evidence, resources to impact the lives of those most in need—is exactly what the Population Council stands for, and we look forward to continued collaboration to achieve our goals.”

The Population Council welcomed Dr. Michael Mbizvo in October 2014 as its new Zambia country director. In this role, Dr. Mbizvo helps strengthen family planning; HIV prevention, care, and services; and adolescent and reproductive health programs and policies in Zambia. Previously Dr. Mbizvo served as director of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at the World Health Organization (WHO/HQ), where he provided research leadership and led collaborations with national and regional partners to strengthen research capacity and improve sexual and reproductive health in developing countries. Dr. Mbizvo holds a DPhil in human reproduction and an MPhil in medical sciences from the University of Zimbabwe and an MSc in reproductive sciences from Monash University, Australia.

About the Population Council

The Population Council confronts critical health and development issues—from stopping the spread of HIV to improving reproductive health and ensuring that young people lead full and productive lives. Through biomedical, social science, and public health research in 50 countries, we work with our partners to deliver solutions that lead to more effective policies, programs, and technologies that improve lives around the world. Established in 1952 and headquartered in New York, the Council is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization governed by an international board of trustees.

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