UN OFFICIAL URGES INCREASED STATE FUNDING FOR REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
The head of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today urged world leaders to boost funding for reproductive health, including family planning, and put women's health at the centre of their national plans to reduce the number of women dying of conditions related to pregnancy.
“Now is the time to move from speech lines to budget lines,” said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA's Executive Director at function on the sidelines of the Millennium Development Goals summit at UN Headquarters in New York.
“Women deliver for their families, communities and nations, and now it is time to deliver for women. No woman should die giving life. There are still 1,000 women who die needlessly every day from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. There are still 215 million women with an unmet need for family planning and 2 million women suffering from the devastating childbirth injury of obstetric fistula,” she added.
She said allocating more resources to reproductive health programmes would result in increased productivity, economic growth and widen the rights of women.
“The health of women is not the focus of the health sector alone. The health of women depends on planning and investments across many sectors – in education, health, nutrition, gender equality, and infrastructure,” Ms. Obaid said.
“Roads and electricity, for example, should be directed towards health centres to support women and families,” she stressed. “National plans should prioritize community access to an integrated package of affordable and essential health services, including family planning, maternal health care and HIV prevention and treatment.”
Ms. Obaid assured world leaders that UNFPA was committed to helping States strengthen their health systems and achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015.
“We are working with WHO [UN World Health Organization], UNICEF [UN Children's Fund], UNAIDS [Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS] and the World Bank to reduce high rates of maternal and newborn deaths in high priority countries,” said Ms. Obaid.
“Together with the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition, UNFPA aims to expand family planning to 100 million women by 2015. We are supporting national counterparts to train and deploy midwives, and also to prevent and treat fistula,” she added.
She said UNFPA fully supported the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health to be launched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday. It is intended to save 16 million lives by 2015.
Ms. Obaid also received an MDG Lifetime Achievement Award on the eve of the summit for her efforts in promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women.