UN head calls on world leaders
to do more
With 21 million unplanned births and 1.1 million infant deaths worldwide, the United Nations has urgently called on world leaders to bridge the gap between demand and supply for reproductive health.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon made the call in recognition of World Population Day today, noting that the world’s population had more than tripled since the creation of the UN. He added that as attempts continued toward the agreed development goals, reproductive health was an indispensable part of the “sustainable development equation”.
“Women and young people who are in good health, and who have the power and means to make their own decisions about how many children to have — and when to have them — are better able to contribute to the development of their societies.
“Yet only one in three rural women in developing countries receives adequate care during pregnancy. Teenage pregnancies are still commonplace in most parts of the world, often driven by poverty and a lack of education. More than 200 million women and adolescent girls have no access to contraceptives. And voluntary family planning programmes are starved for resources almost everywhere,” he said.
“On this World Population Day, I call for urgent, concerted action by Member States to bridge the gap between demand and supply for reproductive health care. We must mainstream reproductive health and rights into all development and poverty reduction plans. Investing in universal access to reproductive health is a crucial investment in healthy societies and a more sustainable future,” he said.
Meanwhile, UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, also added her voice to the call for better reproductive health, noting that some 800 women die in pregnancy or childbirth from complications that were often preventable.
“And for every woman who dies, around 20 more suffer debilitating childbirth injuries, such as obstetric fistula. We already have an international consensus on how to address that. All we need now are resources and accelerated and sustained action.”
She said she believed it was time for the world to re-energise it’s commitment to universal access to such health care, especially voluntary family planning.
“Family planning is a basic human right. However, it remains meaningless unless individuals and couples have access to contraceptives, information and services to enable them to exercise that right.
“We have to meet the needs of the 222 million women who want to delay or avoid pregnancy but have no access to modern contraceptives. This would help prevent 21 million unplanned births; this would also help prevent 79,000 maternal deaths and 1.1 million infant deaths,” she said. (LB)