Funds for family planning supplies needed to curb HIV/AIDS, UN agency warns

Funds for family planning supplies needed to curb HIV/AIDS, UN agency warns

Condom use demonstration in Mozambique. (UNAIDS)
Addressing a conference of international donors and officials from developing countries, the head of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today warned of a sharp gap in funding for family planning supplies that are needed to combat the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

"The most alarming consequences of the financial shortfall, where a condom crisis exists today, are in the area of HIV/AIDS prevention," UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Obaid said in Istanbul at the opening of the three-day conference, which seeks to highlight the worldwide problem of securing contraceptive supplies and condoms for family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention, and to identify what must be done in response.

UNFPA estimates that in 2002, $946 million will be needed to fund contraceptive commodities for family planning and condoms for preventing sexually transmitted infections. That figure is expected to rise to $1.8 billion by 2015. Ms. Obaid said that making these commodities accessible in developing countries through quality services would require additional expenditures of $4 billion in 2002, rising to some $9 billion per year by 2015.

Additional funding, however, will work only as an integral part of a larger strategy, she said. "We have to promote gender equality and combat violence against women; to expand the reach of quality reproductive health services; and to overcome economic, social and cultural factors driving the spread of HIV/AIDS," she observed. "Young women and girls, in particular, need access to services to help them protect themselves."

The Istanbul meeting was organized by the United States-based non-governmental organizations Population Action International and the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), along with John Snow, Inc., and the Wallace Global Fund. Financing was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The forum's participants included senior government officials from nine developing countries - Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Turkey and Viet Nam -- as well as representatives from multilateral, bilateral and private foundation donors.