Congratulating the winners of the Population Award, given to those who improve reproductive health services around the world, United Nations Deputy Secretary General Louise Fréchette said reproductive rights and access to relevant health services must be defended as keys to sustainable development.
"They are critical in the global effort to advance equality, to improve maternal and child health, to combat HIV/AIDS, to reduce poverty and to ensure sustainable development," Ms. Fréchette told an audience lauding Professor Mercedes Concepción of the University of the Philippines and APROFAM, a Guatemalan non-profit organization, represented by its chairman, Giancarlo Maselli, yesterday.
"We honour Ms. Concepción today for her leading role in population research and the formulation of national population policy in her country. It is not for nothing that she is known in population and reproductive health circles in the Philippines as 'the godmother'," she said.
"APROFAM is the leading non-governmental provider of reproductive health services in Guatemala, and we honour it for its outstanding work in providing family planning assistance, reproductive health education, and sexual health counselling and training to low income families in Guatemala," she added.
In both developed and developing countries, the consequences of population dynamics are subjects of intense public debate and policy-making, Ms. Fréchette said.
"We thank our laureates for what they have done to ensure that population and reproductive health issues receive the full attention they deserve. Through their work, they have provided both information and inspiration, both of which are sorely needed," she said.