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UN meeting adopts action plan on population and poverty for Asia-Pacific region

UN meeting adopts action plan on population and poverty for Asia-Pacific region

Governments meeting at a United Nations conference in Bangkok today adopted an action plan addressing population issues as a key contributor to reducing poverty in the Asia-Pacific region and meeting the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of the world's poorest people.

The Fifth Asian and Pacific Population Conference concluded today by agreeing to a 22-page Plan of Action, which makes strategic recommendations in 12 areas of poverty reduction, including population, sustainable development, international and internal migration and urbanization.

The text also addresses population ageing, gender equality, equity and empowerment of women, reproductive rights and reproductive health, adolescent reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. Behavioural change communication and information communication technology (ICT), data, research and training, partnerships, and resources are also the focus of the Plan's suggestions, according to the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), which co-organized the meeting with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)

In order to address the continuing problem of poverty in the region, the document urges governments to “ensure that demographic and population factors are fully integrated into national, sectoral and local-level planning, in particular addressing the needs of the poor and the disadvantaged,” and also to “emphasize human capital formation and infrastructural development…paying special attention to inequalities and disparities in access to education, health, employment and micro-credit.”

As for reproductive rights and reproductive health services, the Plan calls on member countries to "strengthen reproductive health policies and implement comprehensive integrated reproductive health care including family planning services, throughout the health care system…focusing on the impoverished and other vulnerable groups."

On HIV/AIDS, the Plan urges governments to establish comprehensive surveillance systems, develop and implement national HIV/AIDS policies and action plans, establish national prevention programmes and integrate them into reproductive health programmes. The Plan also recommends that governments support community-based home-care initiatives, and help families and communities to address the economic and psychosocial needs of AIDS-affected children, including orphans.