News

New Report Outlines Plan to Reduce Infectious Disease and Poverty

2 February 2002
Author: UNFPA

Today, perhaps for the first time in history, it is possible to launch a truly global response to the major infectious diseases that keep people in poverty."

So begins Scaling Up the Response to Infectious Diseases: A Way out of Poverty, a new report by the World Health Organization, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UNICEF, UNAIDS, the World Bank and UNESCO that was launched at the World Economic Forum in New York on 2 February.

Scaling Up calls for a highly focused effort to take proven strategies against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria and massively increase their availability.

"Tackling these three killer diseases will save the lives of millions of women, men and children who are now caught in the grip of poverty and poor health," says Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA. "This is a priority area that demands increased resources."

"If we scale up efforts for family planning and reproductive health services at the same time we will maximize results and cross the finish line to meet international development goals to reduce poverty, improve health and increase gender equality."

Today some 300 million women in the developing world suffer poor health due to lack of adequate care during pregnancy and birth. Each year about 500,000 women die unnecessarily from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, and 7 million more suffer infection, injury and disability.

The Scaling Up report builds on the work of the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, which was established by WHO to explore the links between health and economic development. The commission's report, issued in December 2001, showed that investing in health in developing countries saves lives and produces clear and measurable financial returns. It further showed that well-targeted spending of $66 billion a year by 2015 could save as many as 8 million lives a year and generate six-fold economic benefits, more than $360 billion a year by 2020.

According to the Commission's report, "One of the most important health interventions is greater attention to reproductive health, not only to control the spread of sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/AIDS, but also to limit fertility through family planning, including access to contraception".

If we are serious about improving health and reducing poverty, we must pay equal attention to reproductive health and family planning," says Ms. Obaid. "The gains from slower population growth, reduced pressure on natural resources and improved human well-being and economic growth are well documented."

Contact Information:

William A. Ryan
Tel.: +66 2 288 2446
Email: ryanw@unfpa.org