SURINAME COUNTRY BRIEF 2017

6 September 2017

BRIEF PRESENTATION OF THE COUNTRY

 
Suriname, officially Republic of Suriname, 63,037 mi2 (163,266 km2), located in the North East of South America is one of three Caribbean countries located on the mainland. The capital is Paramaribo, which is situated on the Suriname River. Suriname is divided in 10 districts. The majority of the population lives in the coastal area. About 10% of the population (mostly tribal Indigenous and Maroons peoples) inhabits the forested Interior of the country. Suriname is a very diverse society that comprises more than eight different ethnic groups speaking more than 15 languages. According to the 2012 Census data, the biggest group identifies as East Indian (27.4%). The government Form is a Parliamentary democracy with a 51-member National Assembly of which almost 30% females
 

Country Indicators:

  Value Year 
Total population 541,638 2012
Maternal Mortality Ratio 49.9 2012
Infant  Mortality Rate 15.9 2013
Adolescent birth rate 51.9 2012
Total fertility rate 2.53 2012
Contraceptive prevalence rate 47.6% 2010
Antenatal care coverage 94.9% 2010
Births attended by skilled health personnel 94.3% 2010
Availability of comprehensive essential obstetric care 5 facilities 2013
Unmet need for family planning 16.9% 2010
Prevalence of HIV infection in pregnant women  1.0 % 2013
% of pregnant women tested for HIV 100% 2013

Source: NHIS/MOH 2011; Epidemiology – BOG-Bureau of Public Health; MICS 2010; CENSUS 2012

 
UNFPA current staffing in Suriname is: Judith Brielle (Liaison Officer) and Fezara Fraenk (Programme Clerk). 
 
The UN operates since 2007 in Suriname as a DaO. First as a self-starter but on April 20, 2017 a request was made to formalize the DaO. Suriname has committed to the common, regional programmatic framework the UN Multi-Country Sustainable Development Framework 2017-2021 and developed, endorsed and signed the Country Implementation Programme (CIP) 2017 last month.
 
With a GDP per capita of over USD 9,000, Suriname is categorized as an upper middle income country. The economy has grown at an average rate of 4.5 percent per annum between 2004 and 2014, largely due to its rich endowment in natural resources and biodiversity . Suriname’s economy is highly concentrated in the extractive industries (gold, oil, and bauxite), which have played a key role in driving growth and revenues. On the other hand, public spending has increased and the recently enacted social programmes have further increased the revenue-expenditure gap of the government. The economy made a downfall in 2015. Inflation in 2016 was 52.4%. The predictions for economic growth for 2017 are negative as was 2016. The government of Suriname took steps to implement a social stabilization and recovery program in response to the difficult economic situation the country is facing and initially adopted actions agreed in discussions with the IMF paving the way for an IMF’s Executive Board two-year Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) of US$478 million signed on May 27, 2016. However after the first disbursement the GoS broke the deal with the IMF. IMF stated in its rapport ‘Regional Economic Outlook for the Western Hemisphere 2017’ presented in May of 2017 that Suriname’s economy is on the rebound and restoring.

PRIORITIES 

The priority areas identified by the office in Suriname are guided by UNFPA’s Sub-Regional Programme 2017-2021, Government’s Multi Annual Development Plan (2017-2021), the UNMSDF and CIP. Initiatives were identified through dialogue with Government and Non-Government stakeholders, sister agencies, and discussions in the UNDAP Coordination Groups. UNFPA co-chairs the (previous UNDAP) coordination groups for adolescents, gender and social services covering our priority areas SRH, adolescents, sexual violence and data. Focus is on finalizing interventions from the 2012-2016 programme while making the shift to a policy oriented agenda intensifying strategic alliances and partnerships as directed by the new UN MSDF and the functionality of the Liaison Office. In this regard UNFPA’s builds on the following plans and policies for which previously support was given:
The National Sexual and reproductive Health and Rights Plan Suriname (2013-2017), as this will be evaluated and revised (if needed) next year.
Implementation of the Safe Motherhood and Neonatal Health Action Plan 2012-2016. This Action plan includes FP, ASRH, screening on STIs and other SRH/R and GBV elements and needs to be evaluated and updated in 2017. 
The HIV NSP 2014-2020. Includes actions to increase access to vulnerable population, increase adherence to care and expand and decentralize treatment including national health insurance scheme from January 2014 in which ARTs are provided free of charge to Surinamese countrywide
The Human Rights Institute initiated by the Ministry of Justice and Police for which support was requested for the establishment of a including a Children’s desk and a LGBT desk. Although Suriname has no derogative laws against MSM and SW, there are still stigma and discrimination issues to be tackled.
Continued strengthening of capacity for evidence based policy making including for the legal framework to reduce adolescent pregnancy based on the Strategic Framework of the Directorate Youth of the Ministry of Sport and Youth which speaks to the goals of the CARICOM framework to reduce adolescent pregnancies and the National Action Plan 2012-2016 of the integral policy for Youth and adolescents. This national framework focuses on preventing drop-out, adolescent pregnancy and to promote and enable youth participation and development opportunities 
The National Gender Policy 2017-2021, based on evaluation of previous Gender plan and identification of structural bottlenecks. 
 

PARTNERSHIPS

UNFPA Suriname works with Government partners: Ministry of Health, Ministry of Sport and Youth –Directorate Youth Affairs; Ministry of Home Affairs – National Gender Bureau, and policy advisors for FBO’s and Population Policy; Ministry of Justice and Police – Bureau for Women and Children Policy. The Medical Mission, Foundation Youth Welbeing and the FBO Loving Hands are the NGO partners with whom the UNFPA has partnered to work on SRH/R including FP, HIV, CSW and ASRH.
 
Main initiatives with the Ministry of Sports and Youth are: the inclusion of SRH issues in relevant policies addressing or targeting Youth; inclusion of CSE in after school programmes; raising awareness on, and addressing the determinants impacting adolescent fertility; providing support to keep teenage mothers in school and prevent a second pregnancy; building the capacity of counselors and peer educators working with adolescent mothers and vulnerable youth; advocacy and awareness on ASRH and life skills issues of vulnerable youth; and the upgrading and decentralization of Programmes for Teenage Mothers. 
 
Data indicates that access to services between the urban, rural and the interior of the country, delivery by skilled medical personnel and use of contraception are highly influenced by wealth, geographic residence and education level of the woman.  UNFPA contributed to the development and implementation of the National SRH and SRR Policy and the Maternal Health Action Plan. The Ministry of Health, PAHO and the IPPF affiliate Lobi Foundation will continue the partnership with UNFPA over the next development framework cycle to reduce the unmet need for FP, increase contraceptive choices, evaluate and adjust policies impacting SRH, improve access to SRH services and commodities, advocate for a harmonized legal framework for ASRH and to create youth friendly health service.
 
HIV education and information is integrated into health promotion and healthy lifestyle initiatives through multi-functional community centers, the clinics of the Medical Mission and through youth peer educators trained by UNFPA.  UNFPA has been a strong partner in all national HIV initiatives providing technical assistance for the development of RM proposals such as for the Global Fund and assistance to comply with annual reporting requirements. In partnership with the FBO organization Loving Hands UNFPA worked with sex workers and young vulnerable women to strengthen their skills and knowledge on HIV prevention The initiative hopes to influence youth sexual behavior in the hinterland areas, since many of the young women from the targeted villages and neighborhoods, tend to provide (sex) services in the gold mining areas, most often during short times in the vacation period.
 
The HFLE Program is not a mandatory component of the school curriculum.  UNFPA has been working very closely with the Ministry of Sport and Youth, the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and peer educators to address some of these challenges. In August 2015 two counsellors from the Ministry of Education finalized a 2 year HFLE Diploma Course, offered by UWI. They are currently working on the development/adaptation of the existing Basic Life Skills Programme to enable implementation in the 74 Multi-Functional Centers, spread throughout the country. The Minister of Education initiated the process to integrate BSLS as mandatory part of the curriculum. 
 
Since November 2015 when the first Zika cases were confirmed, Zika has been spreading in Suriname. More Guillain Barré syndrome (GBS) cases are seen in 2015 than in previous years and also during the first half of 2016 unusual more new cases have been reported. Through resource mobilization UNFPA was able to secure a grant of USD 64,300 from the government of Japan for the response to the Zika epidemic. UNFPA in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Medical Mission developed related FP awareness and information materials and tools for women of reproductive age, addressing the need for self-protection against mosquito bites, the need for close monitoring of the pregnancy by the regular health services, and the possible impacts of ZIKA virus infection during pregnancy. Health care workers and midwives also received capacity strengthening training to include the necessary information in their FP counselling and pre-natal services and contribute to the community outreach for Zika infection prevention. The Minister of Health has announced a general advice to women to postpone new pregnancies until after the ZIKA epidemic or to plan for a healthy pregnancy.  This “opportunity” was utilize to put FP on the agenda again of health care providers, raising higher interest to work on decreasing the unmet need for FP and to raise the availability of modern contraceptive choices.
 
The Office is working with the Ministries of Justice and Police and Home Affairs for the set-up of machinery and the training of judiciary and social workers to guide perpetrators. The Ministry of Home Affairs receives technical and financial support for the development of the Gender Policy 2017-2021 and strengthening of the Gender Machinery. UNFPA also supports for the timely provision of international reporting on the status of Women (among which CEDAW and Belem do Para) and increased information and awareness on gender based violence through several activities of which some are linked to 16 days of activism and the Unite campaign. 
 
In June 2009 the legislation to combat Domestic violence has been approved and is from then affective. GoS/NGO-driven networks, continuously work together to combat domestic violence and the working relationship between laws enforcers, service providers, and others dealing with this issue is one of mutual respect and understanding. UNFPA partners with the Ministry of Home Affairs (Bureau of Gender Affairs), the Ministry of Justice and Police (Bureau for Women and Children Affairs) to establish a national intake form, improve data collection and establish counseling services for perpetrators as called for by the Law. Together with these and other NGO partners including FBO, the UNFPA raises awareness on policies and laws geared towards combating violence against children and women. In this regards a student corps of GBV ambassadors was trained and establish at the University. Being the co-Chair of the UNDAP coordination group for Gender has enabled UNFPA to work with all 17 Ministries on Gender mainstreaming, creating opportunities to address gender inequalities, and the social determinants influencing GBV and to strengthen capacity for gender programming.
 

NATIONAL INSTRUMENTS/APPROACHES

Among the main strategies being utilized to implement the Suriname programme are advocacy and policy dialogue, knowledge management and capacity development among partners. Furthermore the Monitoring and Evaluation Coordination machinery for the previous UNDAP among which the Coordination Groups are utilized to advocate for the areas of our mandate and to push timely implementation. Several initiatives are also implemented in partnership with other resident UN agencies, utilizing each comparative advantage to push joint areas of interest or to keep them on the agenda of national policy makers. Last but not least the office staff is working closely with all the IP’s utilizing each opportunity to strengthen their capacity and deliver TA.
 

OPPORTUNITIES

The fact that we were a DaO self-starter, already had a good M&E structure with the GoS and were able to jointly programme successful initiatives didn’t resulted in a head start in 2017, when the implementation of the UNMSDF started. However, the UNMSDF and relevant processes and procedures are now part of our way of doing business. UNFPA has loyal and strong partners and there is national commitment to address issues surrounding teenage pregnancies, and gender. Therefor UNFPA can play a big role in pushing the national agenda into “real” changes in the areas of ASRH, reducing the unmet need for FP and combat GBV/SV.
 

CHALLENGES

Challenges are the current economic environment, the number of key government personal migrating or being re-shuffled and, the lack of implementation power of IP’s. Furthermore the number of skilled and experience staff is small in government institutions and as the Government picks up key roles in international organizations and commissions such as for UNASUR, SDG implementation and CARICOM their workload becomes challenging.