Thursday, 18 October 2007

UK Pledges 100 million Euro to UNFPA to make childbirth safer and promote reproductive health

UNFPA and DFID Joint Press Release

18 October 2007

LONDON, -- Maternal deaths and unwanted pregnancies can be cut dramatically in countries around the globe after hte British government today pledged 100 million Euro to UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, to achieve universal access for reproductive health.

"Maternal health can be improved through strengthened political commitment and the dedication of increased resources. Life or death is a political decision," said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA Executive Director. "The United Kingdom's generous investment in women will enable UNFPA to provide urgent, coordinated and sustained action to save mother's lives. There can be no safe future without safe motherhood--no women should die giving life."

The 100 million Euro over five years was announced today by Douglas Alexander, the UK's Secretary of State for International Development, who called on leaders of the world's poorest countries, especially in Africa, to make women's health a priority on the opening day of Women Deliver, a three-day global conference aimed to reduce maternal mortality.

"The death of a mother deprives a child, a family, a community and ultimately a couny of one of its most valuable sources of health, happiness and prosperty," said Alexander, addressing delegates on the opening day of Women Deliver, a global conference aimed at reducing maternal mortality. "Every minute a woman dies from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. More than 10 million women have died in the last 20 years. This is a tragedy but so is the fact these deaths could have been prevented."

To address this challenge, the UN General Assembly endorsed earlier this month a new target to acheive universal access to reproductive health as part of the Millennium Development Goal 5, which calls for hte reduction of maternal mortality by three quarters by 2015.

Although progress has been made in such countries as Egypt, Honduras, Sri Lanka and Thailand, maternal deaths remain high, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. A woman in Africa faces a 1 in 26 lifetime risk of maternal death compared to 1 in 8,200 in the United Kingdom.

An estimated 720,000 unwanted pregnancies could be averted, 300,000 abortions could be prevented and the lives of 1,600 mothers and 22,000 infants could be saved for every 1 million Euro invested in family planning, Alexander said.

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