The head of the United Nations population fund today urged Member States and development partners to take quick action to facilitate universal access to reproductive health, the empowerment of women and poverty alleviation.
“We need to keep pushing to make universal access to reproductive health a reality,” said Babatunde Osotimehin, the Executive Director of UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
“Investing in the health and rights of women and young people is not an expenditure; it is an investment in our future,” he said at the opening of a five-day session of the UN Commission on Population and Development.
One of the most urgent actions required is the closing of the $24-billion gap in funding required to finance programmes to meet the needs of 1.8 billion young people and 1.8 billion women of childbearing age globally.
A recent report by the Office of the Secretary-General states that family planning and demographic change alone reduced poverty by one seventh in developing countries between 1960 and 2000, and could produce another one-seventh drop in poverty levels by 2015.
According to the report, if existing requirements for modern contraceptives were met, nearly 100,000 maternal deaths could be averted and unintended pregnancies could be cut by 71 per cent.
Mr. Osotimehin said “some 215 million women in developing countries, who want to plan and space their births do not have access to modern contraception.”
Each year, he added, “neglect of sexual and reproductive health results in an estimated 80 million unintended pregnancies; 22 million unsafe abortions; and 358,000 deaths from maternal causes – including 47,000 deaths from unsafe abortion.”