UNFPA Logo

UNFPA - United Nations Population Fund

Annual Report 2004

www.unfpa.org

Improving Reproductive Health

Improving Reproductive Health

As of 2004, progress in reproductive health is evident in many countries, where family planning is the norm and fewer women are dying in childbirth. But much more needs to be done, especially in those countries with far to go in meeting development goals.

Three actions are central to saving women's lives: family planning, skilled attendance at birth, and access to emergency obstetric care. Ten years after the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, more than half a million women still die each year from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Lack of care heightens the risk to mothers and babies: one third of all pregnant women worldwide receive no health care during pregnancy, and 60 per cent of all deliveries take place outside of health facilities. Poverty makes the dangers even greater: the lifetime risk of a woman dying in pregnancy or childbirth in sub-Saharan Africa is 1 in 16, compared to 1 in 2,800 in developed countries. The Cairo conference called for universal access to reproductive health care by 2015.

FAMILY PLANNING

More than ever, women are making their own choices about childbearing - exercising their right to choose the number, timing and spacing of their children. As a result, families are smaller and more prosperous and children are healthier and better educated. A recent study in Africa shows that spacing births by three years or more could reduce infant deaths by 50 per cent and family planning could reduce maternal deaths by 20 per cent.

Current programmes provide contraceptives to 500 million women in developing countries, and 200 million more women would be using family planning if they had access to affordable, high-quality services. This would reduce dramatically the number of unintended pregnancies, abortions, infant deaths, maternal deaths and children losing their mothers. In 2004, UNFPA-supported programmes helped expand access to and improve the quality of reproductive health services, including family planning, especially in the poorest countries.

.................................................................................................

MAKING MOTHERHOOD SAFER

Much can happen in a single decade, as in the significant reductions of maternal mortality in Bolivia, China, Egypt, Honduras, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mongolia and Zimbabwe. Strong safe motherhood policies and the presence of skilled birth attendants and referrals for emergency obstetric care have made a tremendous difference in these countries. The goal of reducing maternal mortality, which is one of the MDGs as well as a key objective of the ICPD Programme of Action, cannot be achieved without universal access to reproductive health information and services. Of the estimated 529,000 maternal deaths each year, 99 per cent are in developing countries.

GLOBAL SURVEY TEN YEARS AFTER CAIRO

A global survey conducted by UNFPA to appraise national experiences concluded that the decade since the adoption of the ICPD Programme of Action has been one of significant progress. Since 1994, most governments have integrated population concerns into their development strategies. Almost all of the 151 developing countries surveyed have adopted laws or other measures to protect the rights of girls and women. Some 131 have changed national policies, laws or institutions to recognize reproductive rights. Results published in Investing in People: National Progress in Implementing the ICPD Programme of Action 1994-2004 will be used by UNFPA to ensure greater progress in the next decade.


.................................................................................................

ENDING OBSTETRIC FISTULA

Obstetric fistula is a tragic childbirth injury that affects at least 2 million women in developing countries. UNFPA's global Campaign to End Fistula focuses on prevention and treatment in 30 countries in sub- Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Arab States. A website for the campaign (www.endfistula.org) was launched in 2004.

Adolescents in a literacy class in Yemen.

Adolescent girls in a literacy class in Yemen. Literacy programmes have been shown to increase the use of health services. Access to relevant information and services can protect and improve the health of both women and girls, and can help them to know their rights.

.................................................................................................

SUPPORTING ADOLESCENTS AND YOUTH

Nearly half of all people are under the age of 25 - the largest youth generation in history. Facing many challenges and risks, young people need information and services that enable them to lead healthy and productive lives. The ICPD gave unprecedented attention to adolescents' diverse needs with regard to reproductive health, as both a human rights priority and a practical necessity. In UNFPA's global survey on ICPD progress, a large number of countries reported progress in adolescent reproductive health through policies, laws, health and life skills education, and youth-friendly services. Most endeavours have been small-scale, however, and a major challenge is to secure the resources and commitment needed to scale up these programmes.

In 2004, UNFPA formed a Youth Advisory Panel of young people from all parts of the world to help the organization promote the rights and needs of youth within UNFPA programming and national development plans. UNFPA also established the Special Youth Programme Internship to host interns from developing countries at UNFPA headquarters in New York for six-month assignments. The Global Youth Partnership continued its work against HIV/AIDS.

Stop Violence Against Women!

STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN! This was the message of a national campaign launched in November in Istanbul by the Turkish Government using the mass media, sports activities, celebrity appearances and religious sermons. The campaign was organized by UNFPA, which worked with a local advertising agency on shaping the campaign concept.

.................................................................................................

ENDING GENDER VIOLENCE

Speaking before the UN Security Council in October, the Executive Director of UNFPA, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, urged world leaders to condemn and act against systematic rape and all forms of degrading treatment of women during conflicts and to help rehabilitate victims physically and mentally. Ten years earlier, the ICPD called on countries to "take full measure" to end violence against women, yet progress has been mixed despite high-level promises throughout the past decade. UNFPA works with partners to prevent and treat cases of sexual violence, whether in times of crisis or its ongoing occurrence.

.................................................................................................

SECURING ESSENTIAL SUPPLIES

As the world's largest multilateral source of reproductive health commodities, UNFPA is committed to meeting the need, with measurable impact: each $1 million of commodities could prevent 800 maternal deaths, 150,000 abortions or 360,000 unwanted pregnancies. Commodity security has improved since the ICPD called for a reliable and adequate supply of a range of contraceptive methods and other reproductive health essentials. In many developing countries, however, the shortage of condoms and contraceptives continues to be severe.

CULTURAL SENSITIVITY TO ENHANCE PROGRAMMING

Working from WithinDevelopment efforts stand greater chances of succeeding when they are presented to beneficiaries in a culturally sensitive manner and built on open dialogue and community involvement, says the 2004 report Working from Within: Culturally Sensitive Approaches in UNFPA Programming. The aim is to create an environment that makes programmes for human rights more acceptable and sustainable, which is accomplished by recognizing local social and cultural realities and actively supporting a process of local ownership. Nine case studies presented in this publication are drawn from a longer UNFPA report, Culture Matters: Working with Communities and Faith-based Organizations. The companion booklet, 24 Tips for Culturally Sensitive Programming, presents recommendations based on UNFPA research. Culture and human rights were also the focus of a conference attended by more than 100 experts from around the world, "Cairo and Beyond: Reproducti ve Rights and Culture", which was organized by the Government of the Netherlands and UNFPA on the occasion of International Women's Day, 8 March.


<< 3. Millennium Development Goals | 5. Confronting the HIV/AIDS Crisis >>