MP Amira Stephano to ST: Free Healthcare, Education Services Have not Stopped Despite War on Syria

Services of reproductive health and education have been available free to all citizens in Syria and they have not stopped throughout the terror war being waged on the country, Syrian MP said.

Dr. Amira Stephano told the Syriatimes e-newspaper on Wednesday that the constitution of the Syrian Arab Republic provides for protecting motherhood and childhood and taking care of youths as well as ensuring equal opportunities for women and men, so services of reproductive health and education have been available free to all citizens in Syria and they have not stopped during the terror war on the country.

 She made it clear that the tasks of the members of the parliament- as legislative authority- are to discuss the ministerial statement of the government, to approve the budget and development plans and to be briefed on the plan of each ministry in the state. Therefore, the MPs put suitable and applicable recommendations.

The MP, who participated in a workshop held recently in Damascus on the role of MPs in following up the recommendations of Cairo Conference on Population and Development beyond 2014, said that the workshop aimed to explain the principle of population development, development objectives and national priorities.

“The MPs participated in the workshop were divided into three groups to draw up recommendations about the priorities and principles of the national plans related to reproductive health and gender within the framework of Cairo conference, main causes that must be mentioned in national plans and the causes that could be implemented and followed up by the MPs,” Dr. Stephano added.

She affirmed that the recommendations of the workshop came within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are also known as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The SDGs are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations. The broad goals are interrelated though each has its own targets to achieve.

“Among the most important recommendations of the workshop is that the government must accelerate the delivery of sustainable development plan to the parliament in order to be studied by specialized committees to put notes and recommendations and to approve the plan upon the constitution of the Syrian Arab Republic,” Dr. Stephano said.

She went on to say that the other important recommendation is the need to update some laws in line with the current situation to enhance the role of woman and youth.

“Actually, the workshop enhances integration between legislative and executive authorities to achieve the SDGs and to offer the best services to citizens,” the MP concluded.    

The workshop was held by the People’s Assembly [Parliament] in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Syrian Commission for Family Affairs and Population in Cham Hotel in Damascus.

Rich countries’ domination of UN organizations

Deputy Speaker of the Parliament Najdat Anzour stressed- at the opening ceremony of the event- the importance of achieving economic development within the framework of cooperation between all world countries and concerned organizations in order to reach a comprehensive development that protects individuals’ rights.

He hoped that international relations will serve development programs in developing countries. “Despite the difficult situation in Syria and region, we hope that workers in the United Nations, especially in the UNFPA, could change the stereotype entrenched in the mind of the region’s peoples about the rich countries’ domination of these organizations.”

Anzour asked what speaking before UN representatives about population, development and reproductive health in Syria, against which most western countries conspired without any reaction from international organizations, means.

On her part, Minister of  Labour and Social Affairs Rema Qadri affirmed that Syria follows up the implementation of its development strategy and policy in accordance with the goals of the International Conference on Population and Development beyond 2014. She referred to the cooperation between legislative and executive authorities and civil societies in this regard.

Deputy Representative of UNFP underscored the need to achieve the national goals of all world countries in the fields of population, development, reproductive health, gender equality, combating Gender-based violence within the framework of population and development program.

However, Chairman of the Syrian Commission for Family Affairs and Population Dr. Akram al-Qash said that population policy documents are being updated to be compatible with the sustainable development agenda of the commission and the national program of Syria after the crisis.

Interviewed by: Basma Qaddour