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Dalanzadgad, Mongolia – The Gobi-Oyu Development Support Fund (DSF) CEO, Mr. S. Erdenebat, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative, Ms. Naomi Kitahara, today signed a contributions agreement to support women and young people’s health in Umnugobi aimag (province).

The health of women, adolescents and youth in Umnugobi are extremely concerning. In 2016, the maternal mortality ratio was estimated to be 212.9 deaths per 100,000 livebirths, which is significantly higher than the national average. Additionally, in recent years, the aimag has had to deal with a population influx due to large mining operation in the region, and has observed higher rates of traffic accidents and sexually transmitted diseases.

To address these challenges, the Oyu Tolgoi-financed Gobi-Oyu Development Support Fund has agreed to support the “Integrated Support Programme for Women and Young People’s Health in Umnugobi”, which is a joint UN Programme with UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF in partnership with the Government of Mongolia and the Government of Australia. The Integrated Programme is valued at US$5,000,800, with financial contributions in the amount of US$1.7 million from the OT-financed Gobi-Oyu Development Support Fund and US$3.3 million from UN agencies and partners.

The joint UN Programme aims to tackle these critical and emerging health and social issues in Umnugobi aimag such as sexual and reproductive health of women, adolescents and youth, youth empowerment, non-communicable diseases, health sector governance and leadership, and domestic and gender-based violence. The programme will contribute to the achievement of Mongolia’s Sustainable Development Vision 2030 as well as the Government of Umnugobi’s development plans.

During the signing ceremony, Ms Kitahara explained, “Through this Joint Programme, the Government of Umnugobi will position itself as a model aimag working towards the national government’s Sustainable Development Vision 2030 by creating a healthy and safe living environment for citizens, improving public awareness on health education, and much more”. She expressed her special appreciation to the Embassy of Australia, which initiated and facilitated the process of ensuring joint support to the health sector of the Umnugobi province of main stakeholders.

Six key outcomes for the joint programme are:

1.     Increased coverage and improved quality of sexual and reproductive health services for women, adolescents and youth;

2.     Reduced incidence of sexually transmitted infections and cervical cancer;

3.     Increased detection and treatment of non-communicable diseases including cervical cancer and road traffic injuries;

4.     Sub-national level governance strengthened and demand creation and outreach for health services conducted;

5.     Adolescents and youth empowered and participate in youth policy and decision-making platforms; and

6.     Gender based violence/domestic violence prevention and response strengthened.

The UN agencies and the Embassy of Australia will bring in international expertise and employ innovative technology to improve the lives and wellbeing of the citizens of Umnugobi.

Offering congratulatory words, the Australian Ambassador John Langtry said, “We are delighted to be able to take part in this ground-breaking collaboration between multiple UN Agencies, Australian Aid, Australian mining interests in Oyu Tolgoi, NGOs and Mongolian governments at the national, aimag and soum level to comprehensively address vital health needs across a whole province.  We hope to be able to make particular contributions on best practice in remote area emergency medicine and sexual health and cervical cancer prevention, based on Australia’s experience in these areas that is very relevant to Umnugobi’s current situation and needs.”

During opening remarks, UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Beate Trankmann, praised the partners for coming together to support and implement the Joint Programme. She also emphasized the need to strive for further cooperation, saying, “We must not forget that enormous challenges still lay in front of us and it is our duty to commit, from this day forward, to collaboration and working as one”.

Sh. Baigalmaa, General Manager, Communities, at Oyu Tolgoi, said, “Today, we’re witnessing another outcome we have been striving for, a joint initiative that brings together numerous stakeholders to tackle some of our most pressing issues. Oyu Tolgoi is thrilled to be launching the Integrated Support Programme for Women and Young People’s Health in Umnugobi.”

“Oyu Tolgoi is pleased that there will be additional focus on the marginalized and vulnerable populations. We support the UN’s call to action to make efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and therefore join the effort to ensure we ‘Leave No One Behind’.”

Highlighting the strength of the partnership, Ms. Kitahara added, “Oyu Tolgoi’s commitment to its corporate social responsibility, through the Gobi-Oyu Development Support Fund, is a model for others to follow. We’re extremely grateful for Oyu Tolgoi’s continued commitment to supporting the development of communities in Mongolia.”