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Financial Crisis Should Not Hinder Efforts to Improve Health, Reduce Poverty, Says UNFPA

Tuesday, April 13, 2010 Press Release J E 4
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UNITED NATIONS, N.Y., April 12 The global financial crisis should not be allowed to prevent further investments in health and human well-being, said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. The lack of such social investment, she warned, will be most acutely felt in the poorest countries, and will most severely impact those who are socially and economically the most underprivileged--particularly poor women and girls.

In a statement delivered to the opening ceremony of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development by Purnima Mane, a UNFPA Deputy Executive Director, Ms. Obaid, called for the funding gap for reproductive health, especially family planning, to be urgently addressed to meet development goals, improve health and reduce poverty.

"Today, there are 215 million women in the developing world with unmet need for effective contraception," said Ms. Obaid. "And in both southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where the largest number of maternal deaths occur, fewer than half of all births are attended by skilled health workers. Now is the time to make universal access to reproductive health an economic, social and political priority."

Ms. Obaid called on governments to increase resources for reproductive health and to finance all areas of the Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. This includes data collection, analysis and its use for development planning and monitoring, as well as the 2010 round of censuses.

For 2010, the year of the censuses, the United Nations Secretary-General's report estimates that $64.7 billion is needed for population programmes. One third of this, about $21.7 billion, is expected as donor assistance. But there is a huge gap, as such assistance is projected at about $10.6 billion for 2010. Developing countries are projected to mobilize about $25.7 billion from their domestic resources in 2010.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect. UNFPA -- because everyone counts.

SOURCE UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund
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