Press Release

United Nations Population Fund Welcomes Netherlands and U.K. Action to Avert Condom Crisis

10 November 2000

United Nations, New York – The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), today welcomed news that the Netherlands will contribute $39 million and the United Kingdom nearly $37 million to UNFPA to avert a crisis in contraceptive and other reproductive health supplies in developing countries.

The total contribution, around $76 million, will be used to purchase male and female condoms, other methods of contraception, obstetric and gynaecological equipment, and drugs for the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases in the world’s poorest countries.

The contribution comes after UNFPA reported a marked shortage of commodities, including contraceptives, during 1999 and 2000. UNFPA, the world’s leading supplier of contraceptives to developing countries, has had to reduce its support in this area due to lack of funding. At the same time, demand for effective contraception and protection against HIV infection has increased. In the countries most affected by HIV/AIDS, growth in demand for condoms has far exceeded estimates.

Dr. Nafis Sadik, Executive Director of the Fund, warmly welcomed the donation and encouraged other countries to follow the Netherlands and United Kingdom in providing funding for reproductive health commodities.

“This donation shows the commitment of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom to the right of women and men around the world to have access to reproductive health care and especially safe and effective methods of family planning,” she said. “As a direct result of their contribution, there will be fewer unwanted pregnancies, fewer abortions and fewer maternal deaths in developing countries, and a reduction in the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.”

“While we have made great strides in reproductive health and population issues, a woman still dies every minute due to pregnancy-related causes and some 350 million couples do not have access to a range of safe and effective contraceptive methods,” continued Dr. Sadik.

In developing countries, about six out of ten couples now use family planning, compared with one in ten in the 1960s. Demand for contraceptives is projected to grow by 40 per cent between now and 2015, as a consequence both of population growth and an increase in the proportion of people who use contraception.

The Fund has received reports of shortages from its field offices in all regions of the world. The most severe shortages are in countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Ethiopia, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Angola and Namibia. Several Eastern European countries, including the Russian Federation, have reported serious shortfalls, as have Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The Fund estimates the current contraceptive shortfall to be between $75 million and $85 million. Every $1 million shortfall in contraceptive commodities is likely to result in approximately 360,000 unwanted pregnancies, 150,000 abortions, more than 800 maternal deaths and 11,000 infant deaths.

The money given today by the Netherlands and United Kingdom Governments will help the poorest developing countries meet immediate requirements. Shortfalls can be expected to continue, however, until national programmes develop sustainable approaches to contraceptive provision that combine public, private and non-governmental efforts.

Member States of the United Nations have pledged to make access to reproductive health care universal by 2015. Other commitments to be met by that date include a 75 per cent reduction in maternal mortality, a two thirds reduction in infant and child mortality and a 25 per cent reduction in HIV infection rates among 15-24 year olds by 2010.

The Netherlands Government recently became UNFPA’s biggest donor by pledging approximately $51 million (124 million Dutch guilders) to the Fund in 2000, an increase from $38 million in 1999. Their contribution accounts for some 21 per cent of UNFPA’s general funding. The United Kingdom is UNFPA’s fourth largest donor, giving $22 million in 2000.

Contributions to UNFPA’s general funding in 2000 are expected to be around $260 million, an increase of around $18 million over 1999, but $52 million short of the Fund’s income just a few years ago. For the past several years, official development assistance has dropped significantly. UNFPA hopes this year indicates a reversal in that trend and that donor countries will provide the resources to fulfil their part of the agreements reached at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994. Meeting Cairo goals would result in universal access to reproductive health services by 2015.

UNFPA is the world’s largest multilateral source of population assistance. About a quarter of all population assistance from donor nations to developing countries is channelled through UNFPA. Since it began operations in 1969, the Fund has provided about $4.9 billion in assistance to virtually all developing countries.

The Fund’s main objectives are to assist developing countries to provide quality reproductive health and family planning services on the basis of individual choice, and formulate population policies that support sustainable development. The Fund’s strategy focuses on meeting the needs of individual women and men rather than on achieving demographic targets. Key to this approach is empowering women and providing them with more choices through expanded access to education, health services and employment opportunities.

Note to Editors:

United Kingdom

For information about the announcement made today by Clare Short, the International Development Secretary in the United Kingdom, contact the Press Office, DFID, tel: +44-20-7917-0821; or the Public Enquiry Point, tel: +44-845-300-4100; web site:


For information about the announcement made today by Eveline Herfkens, Minister for Development

Cooperation in the Netherlands, contact the Press Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tel: +31-70-348-4167


Contact Information:

William A. Ryan
Tel.: +66 2 288 2446

Abubakar Dungus
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5031

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