News

Latin American, Caribbean Countries Poised to Reaffirm Cairo Consensus

10 March 2004
Author: UNFPA

SANTIAGO, Chile—Thirty-two Latin American and Caribbean countries stand poised to adopt a declaration reaffirming their commitment to the Programme of Action of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). They are expected to reach a decision on a draft declaration before them tomorrow, Thursday, 11 March.

A representative of Bolivia disclosed this information on the first day of a two-day meeting to review the region’s progress in implementing the ICPD’s 20-year Programme of Action. About 40 Latin American and Caribbean countries and their partners are holding a meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on Population and Development. It is being held at the Santiago headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

René Pereira, the Bolivian delegate who serves as the meeting’s rapporteur, said that 31 countries had decided to co-sponsor the draft declaration for adoption. The meeting’s executive committee will consider amendments proposed by 10 countries this evening, with the hope of producing a text that could be adopted on Thursday.

If adopted in its current form, the draft declaration would reaffirm the Cairo Programme and urge countries to intensify efforts to ensure that their poverty-reduction plans incorporate goals that address reproductive health concerns and disparities in income, ethnicity and gender. The implementation of the Cairo Programme, the draft would say, is essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted by the world’s leaders in September 2000.

The links between the MDGs and the Cairo Programme add to the latter’s importance to Latin America and the Caribbean, said José Luis Machinea, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, at the opening of today’s meeting.

Marisela Padron, Director of UNFPA’s Latin America and Caribbean Division, said that the Cairo Programme is helping to address some of the region’s most critical problems, one of which is the persistence of poverty.

“It is a well-known fact that in Latin America, the distribution of income is the least equal on the planet, with countries where 10 per cent of the population receive 50 per cent of the national income while 50 per cent of the population receive as little as 10 per cent,” said Ms. Padron. “Of the 400 million inhabitants of the region, about 33 per cent live on less than $2 daily.”

People in the region also experience lack of access to reproductive health, water, and other basic services, such as education, said Ms Padron. These perpetrate inequalities that become obstacles to development.

Another critical challenge to the region is HIV/AIDS, Ms. Padron added. The infection is spreading rapidly in Central America, while the Caribbean already has the world’s second-highest prevalence rate.

The meeting is expected to end tomorrow with proposals on how to enhance the implementation of the Cairo Programme of Action. Key issues due to be addressed include HIV/AIDS in Latin America and the Caribbean, where 2 million people live with HIV; maternal and infant deaths, with figures showing that 22,000 mothers died in 2000 during childbirth; and poverty in a region where the number of the poor rose by 20 million.

Other major challenges to be addressed include the increasing rate of teenage pregnancy In countries such as Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Haiti, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Uruguay. Violence against women is also on the increase; several countries have set up high-level commissions to formulate programmes to curb it.

Another cause of concern is the shortfall in investments from donor countries, which are providing about 50 per cent of their Cairo commitments of an annual $6.1 billion for reproductive health services in 2005.

The outcome of the two-day meeting will serve as input for the session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development to be held in late March. The outcome will also be presented to a regular meeting of the region’s Ad Hoc Committee on Population and Development, which will be held in late June.

These meetings in Latin America and the Caribbean will contribute to the global review of the Cairo Programme of Action, which is in its tenth anniversary and midway through its timetable.

Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
Population : 11.7 mil
Fertility rate
2.7
Maternal Mortality Ratio
155
Contraceptives prevalence rate
47
Population aged 10-24
28.8%
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 76%
Girls 77%

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