Press Release

23 June 2010

Efforts to Boost Reproductive Health of Women, Girls, Falling Short, Says New MDG Review

UNITED NATIONS, New York—UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, welcomes the findings of a new report by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It particularly shares his concerns about MDG 5, with its target of reducing maternal deaths by three quarters between 1990 and 2015.

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2010, launched by the Secretary-General here today, cites preliminary data showing as “signs of progress with some countries in achieving significant declines in maternal mortality ratios.” However, it warns, “the rate of reduction is still well short of the 5.5 per cent annual decline needed to meet the MDG target.”

“We welcome the MDG report’s indication of progress, with some nations significantly reducing maternal death ratios,” said UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid. “However, as the report notes, the reductions fall far below the rates required to meet the MDG target. Therefore, to speed up progress, we must invest more in reproductive health for women and girls. If every woman received reproductive health care, maternal death and disability would cease to be the devastatingly common tragedy it is today.”

“Evidence from research and from the progress made so far prove that investing in women is not only the right thing to do, it is also smart economics,” added Ms. Obaid. “When women are healthy and survive, they provide enormous social and economic benefits for their families, communities and nations.”

According to the report:

  • More women are receiving skilled assistance during delivery in developing countries, particularly in Northern Africa and South-East Asia. However, less than half the women giving birth in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are attended by skilled health personnel.
  • Meeting women’s unmet need for family planning significantly reduces maternal deaths by cutting down unintended pregnancies. Preventing closely spaced pregnancies and pregnancies among teenagers would also improve the health of women and girls and increase the chances that their children will survive.
  • Disparities remain between the wealthiest and the poorest women in getting skilled assistance at birth, especially in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where the wealthiest women are five times more likely and three times more likely, respectively, as the poorest women to be attended by trained healthcare workers. In the developing world as a whole, “women in the richest households are three times as likely as women in the poorest households” to receive such care.
  • Funding for family planning has declined during the first few years of the present decade. And inadequate funding for family planning is a major failure in fulfilling commitments to improving women’s reproductive health.

 

Contact Information:
Abubakar Dungus
Tel: +1 212 297 5031
Email:  dungus@unfpa.org
www.unfpa.org