The Ministerial Declaration “Educating to Prevent" and young people in Latin America and the Caribbean
In 2008, ministers of health and education throughout Latin America and the Caribbean signed a historic commitment to prevent HIV/AIDS through comprehensive sexuality education. In this important ministerial declaration, governments recognized that "sexuality is an essential part of being human,” and agreed to a number of targets to bolster access to comprehensive sexuality education and health services among youth. These targets include a 75% reduction in the number of schools that currently do not have institutionalized comprehensive sexuality education by 2015, as well as a 50% reduction of adolescents and young people who currently lack health care coverage to meet their sexual and reproductive health care needs.
While advances towards realizing the goals of the declaration have been made, many young people still lack access to the services and information they need to protect their health and rights. The urgency of addressing the sexual and reproductive health needs of young people is undeniable: in our region teen pregnancy occurs at an alarming rate, a high percentage of people who acquire HIV are young, and gender-based violence continues to be a huge problem. Three years after the historic declaration, we fear that the commitments made in 2008 do not go beyond the paper.
Commitments made in the declaration are quite specific, and this is precisely what makes the document so valuable: not only does it contain explicit recognition of fundamental issues for the welfare of young people, but it establishes specific actions needed to achieve their health and well-being.
At the close of the UN International Year of Youth, we demand that governments consider our needs, our experiences, and our ideas to further the aims of the Declaration. The decisions that governments make and the actions that they take will have a huge impact on the quality of life and future for millions of young people throughout the region.