UN expert urges donors to make good on reproductive health pledges

31 August 2004

Developing countries have made tremendous strides in improving reproductive health and tackling women's rights issues, but rich nations have provided only $3.1 billion of the $6.1 billion they pledged for these goals a decade ago at a watershed United Nations population conference, a senior United Nations official said today.

Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), made her comments in an address to "Countdown 2015," a global round table discussion in London organized by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to mark the 10th anniversary of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

Countries incorporated the ICPD Programme of Action into their national policies, and have reconfirmed their commitment to it in regional meetings, but "they are hampered by inadequate support from rich nations," she said.

Ms. Obaid told a subsequent news conference that a recent UNFPA survey answered by 169 governments showed that most have taken steps since 1994 to empower women and address key reproductive health concerns.

"But it also showed that much more needs to be done to improve maternal health, slow the spread of HIV/AIDS and ensure adequate supplies of essential contraceptive commodities," she said.

The donors' share of funding for contraceptive supplies, plus condoms for the prevention of HIV/AIDS infection, has declined by one-third since 1994, but the need for such commodities will grow 40 per cent by 2015, she said.

"In 2004, it is a crime that women still die because they are having babies," Ms. Obaid added, referring to the persistence of high maternal death rates in many developing countries, especially among poor and young women.


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