Asia Pacific Meeting Reaffirms Commitment to Reproductive and Sexual Health
20 Oct 2009
20 Oct 2009
BEIJING, China —The effort to ensure that all Asians can access reproductive health services is falling short, despite global agreement that this is essential to meeting other development goals. That was the consensus at a regional forum here involving a wide range of experts, activists and practitioners in the field.
Nearly 1,000 people from around the world took part in the 5th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights, which looked at progress and ongoing challenges in family planning, maternal health, AIDS prevention and women’s empowerment.
The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo called for universal access to reproductive health by 2015. Two years ago the United Nations linked this objective to the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of a three quarters reduction in maternal deaths by the same year.
But “there has been a lacklustre reaction by governments, donors and development institutions” in funding the Cairo action plan, according to the Beijing Call for Action drafted by the conference organizers. The Call urges “civil society, parliamentarians, governments, donors and young people” to rapidly fulfil “the unfinished agenda of the ICPD”.
“ICPD is about human rights and choices,” Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, declared in her opening address. She said there have been important gains since 1994, but many countries, particularly in South Asia, are still far from the MDG maternal mortality target.
Dr. Gill Greer, Director General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), said the global recession is threatening support for NGOs working for reproductive and sexual health and rights. She stressed that fundraising necessary to combat climate change must not reduce resources needed for development.
Dr. Zhao Baige, Vice Minister of China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC), noted her country’s dramatic reductions in fertility and maternal deaths in the past three decades, and said the national family planning programme had moved from an administrative approach to one of informed choice.
In plenary meetings and dozens of smaller sessions, participants shared scientific evidence and programmatic experience from many countries, covering a broad set of issues related to population and reproductive and sexual health and rights.
These included, among others: poverty alleviation and access to health care; climate change; ageing; migration and trafficking; sexuality and culture; pregnancy, abortion and childbirth; linkages between reproductive health and HIV/AIDS programmes; violence against women; reproductive health in crisis situations; sexuality education and youth-friendly services.
Young people from throughout the Asia Pacific region received advocacy training in a pre-conference Youth Forum and played active roles in the three-day gathering.
Conference organizers and supporters included the China Family Planning Association, IPPF, UNFPA, Partners in Population and Development (a coalition of developing countries promoting South-South cooperation) and NPFPC.
William A. Ryan
Tel. +66 89 897 6984.