The Eastern Europe and Central Asia region has undergone intensive political, economic and social transformations over the past decade. It has a shrinking and ageing population with low levels of fertility, though some of the countries and sub-regions have higher levels of fertility and young populations. The rapidly changing life styles of young people and intensive labour migration increase the vulnerability of young people to HIV. The region is experiencing the world’s fastest growing AIDS epidemic: the number of HIV infections rose from 30,000 in 1995 to 1.4 million in 2004. The majority of reported infections are among young people, especially injecting drug users and sex workers, their clients and partners. All countries in the region are sources and recipients of human trafficking. Gender-based violence is becoming the focus of social policies at the national level.
Sub-regional differences are considerable in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Eastern Europe has specific needs in addressing vulnerable groups, in improving the quality of reproductive health services and in developing evidence-based social policies. In the South Caucasus and Central Asia, maternal health is a challenge, especially in the poorest countries, where reproductive health and population programmes are not integral parts of poverty-alleviation strategies. Despite increased awareness of and access to reproductive health services, unsafe abortion continues to be the primary method of fertility regulation in some countries. Greater investment in data collection, research and advocacy are critical for developing evidence-based social policies, promoting reproductive health programmes and increasing resources to address these challenges.
The Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Programme 2008-2011, which contributes to the UNFPA Strategic Plan, responds to the above-mentioned challenges through a variety of strategies:
Capacity Building : to develop technical skill-building of regional and national partners and UNFPA staff to plan, manage, monitor and sustain activities in the areas of population and development, reproductive health and gender equality.
Partnerships: to promote and catalyse new alliances with government, non-governmental and civil society organisations to leverage new resources in support of the ICPD Programme of Action in the region. Multi-sectoral partnerships with other UN Partners, policy makers, regional parliamentarian forums and inter-governmental organizations, civil society institutions, and academic centres are pursued as a means to inform advocacy, policy dialog and knowledge-building.
Advocacy: to enhance knowledge and dialogue and mobilise political and financial support at the national and regional level in support of population and development, sexual and reproductive health and gender equality. Particular attention is given to vulnerable and marginalised groups in the region in advocay activities.
Monitoring and research: to contribute to evidence-based policy, decision-making and new knowledge and information in the fields of population and development, sexual and reproductive health and gender equality.
Facilitation of exchange of experiences: to intensify efforts to utilise existing regional and national expertise, north-south and south-south knowledge, lessons learned and good practises.
Integated programmatic and technical support : to provide technical support to country programmes and national counterparts in the areas of population and development, reproductive health and gender equality, based on national priorities in collaboration with regional technical resources and institutions.