The Kiribati Family Health Association or KFHA, as it is also well known, was first established in the early 1980’s, through the initiative of determined I-Kiribati women who organized community movements to address emerging Family Planning issues. Established as an organized group of women, they operated under AiaMaeaAinen Kiribati (AMAK), the national umbrella women organization in Kiribati which was then under the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (1). In 1987, KFHA became independent from AMAK and was established as a separate Non-Government Organization with a mandate to focus specifically on (SRH) Sexual Reproductive Health Issues. Obtaining an independent status was eminent to qualify it to receive direct funding support from IPPF (International Parenthood Planned Federation) based in UK. Nonetheless, since its inception in 1985, KFHA has never had any Strategy Plan and had to depend heavily on IPPF for its annual work program as well as its operational budget.
Whilst KFHA has just been in operation for about 24 years, it has, nonetheless, been able to acquire nation-wide trust and recognition gained from its remarkable achievements and successes over those years. KFHA’s contribution in addressing emerging health issues through its advocacy programs and provision of health services for the community has been highly commented by the general public and also acknowledged by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
Over the years, IPPF has been the main source of funding assistance and technical support for KFHA in the implementation of its HIV & AIDs and SRH programs. KFHA has yet to attain full Associate Membership status with IPPF. However, steps are now being taken in this direction as a matter of priority and Full Membership status is envisaged to be achieved by mid-2011.
1.1 National and International Affiliations
KFHA is a duly registered NGO under the auspices of the MISA and for technical matters, MOH . As such, KFHA works in close collaboration and in partnership with relevant Government agencies and other concerned NGOs, such as the Red Cross and the AHD (Adolescent Health Development), in fighting against the spread of HIV& AIDs and STI in the country. In particular, KFHA works closely with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and Ministry of Internal and Social Affairs.
In working together, this ensures that program activities advocated by all relevant bodies and agencies, concerned with sexual reproductive family health are complementary to each other and are properly coordinated at national level, through the Kiribati Coordinating Committee mechanism.
An MOU between KFHA and the Ministry of Health was signed in March, 2011. This in itself is a major milestone achievement for KFHA which is also an indication of the Government’s level of trust and confidence on KFHA’s performance and services. This in essence is also a clear recognition of the important role KFHA has to play in dealing with matters relating to SRH, HIV&AIDs, STI and Family Planning issues in Kiribati. Whilst IPPF has principally been the main source of funding assistance and technical support for KFHA, more recently AUSAID, NZAID and SPC have also come in with their funding assistance providing support for various programs such as Capacity Building, Continuum of Care and Community Development Projects (CDO). KHFA is greatly indebted to these generous offers of assistance and would like to put on record their deepest gratitude and appreciation to those concerned Governments and organizations.
1.2 Office Location
KFHA used to be located in Bairiki, renting the Girl Guides house. With rapidly increasing demand from the public for services provided by KFHA, the small building is no longer adequate to cater for any expansion or improvement of service. This in fact is also one contributing factor in limiting the organization’s ability in expanding the scope of its services for the Community. Compounded with this is also the requirement in the lease agreement where KHFA is prevented from carrying out any extension or upgrading on the building unless agreed to or approved by the Girl Guides Association (GGA). Consequently, KFHA is now planning to build its own building in order to be able to expand and improve its services.
1.3 KFHA Constitution, the Board of Directors and Staff
KFHA is governed by a Constitution approved by the General Assembly. The General Assembly elects a President and 9 other members of the Board of Directors to oversee the affairs of the Association at policy level. The elections and appointment of Board Members is for three years and are conducted during a General Assembly. Currently, there are over 200 registered active members. The Executive Director is responsible for the overall administration running and operation of the organization and is supported by 10 technical permanent staff.