New Web Site Provides Crucial Information on Reproductive Health and Rights

17 July 2003
Author: UNFPA

Stronger Voices for Reproductive Health, a partnership aimed at improving the quality of sexual and reproductive health in poor countries, will now be sharing its experience through cyber space. Lessons learned by the initiative's work in six pilot countries, as well as other information on quality reproductive health care and rights, are now featured on the initiative's web site.

The six countries where the initiative is currently active – India, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Nepal, Peru and Tanzania – are in great need for reproductive health information and services. With the exception of Peru, all of them suffer from high levels of mortality rates -- 50 to 88 deaths per 1,000 live births. Thousands of young women in these countries die while giving birth every year; more than 90 per cent of them could be saved if they had access to appropriate, quality health care.

Stronger Voices for Reproductive Health was launched in 2001 with funding from the United Nations Foundation. It brings together the collective experience of four United Nations agencies, including UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, the International Labour Organization, the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

Most approaches to quality of care focus on better services, upgraded health facilities, trained health care providers and enough essential supplies, including contraceptives. "The Stronger Voices initiative, however, underlines the fact that quality of care goes beyond good services and extends to responding to users' reproductive needs," said Dr. Laura Laski, Senior Technical Officer at UNFPA. "The initiative supports women in making their voices heard when demanding and obtaining quality care.".

Stronger Voices for Reproductive Health works with women's groups, NGOs, health care providers and local officials to improve services and make them more affordable. Though specific activities vary from country to country, some of the initiative's common approaches and achievements include:

  • Empowering women's groups to demand better quality care;
  • Assessing the existing knowledge and practices regarding the quality of reproductive health care;
  • Strengthening partnerships among the four U.N. agencies, national governments, NGOs, and community action groups;
  • Bringing health care providers and stakeholders together to address reproductive health and rights issues.

Some of the initiative's country-specific activities include: 

  • Women groups in India are being mobilized to demand better quality reproductive health care by working closely with "panchayats", or local village councils, to address health concerns.
  • In Kyrgyzstan, the initiative is helping communities launch information campaigns to raise awareness of reproductive health issues, particularly in relation to the country's recently adopted law on reproductive rights.
  • In Mauritania, mico-insurance health schemes are being tested to increase women's access to affordable maternal health care.
  • Nepalese women's groups are collaborating with local health management committees and health providers to achieve quality reproductive health care.
  • Organized youth groups in Peru are being mobilized to become more effective advocates for better quality health care catering to their particular needs and concerns.
  • Tanzanian community groups are receiving advocacy training and women's credit associations are being linked with the country's safe motherhood initiative.

* * *

The United Nations Population Fund provides international leadership on population and reproductive health issues and is a key source of financial assistance for family planning, safe motherhood and HIV prevention programs in developing countries.

Contact Information:

Omar Gharzeddine
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5028

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