UNFPA Worldwide

Eastern Europe & Central Asia

This region, made up of former Soviet Union states, has undergone significant political, economic and social transformations over the past 15 years.

By and large, the region is characterized by a shrinking and ageing population with low levels of fertility, although a few of the countries have higher fertility rates and young populations. The rapidly changing life styles of youth and an intensive labour migration increase young people's vulnerability to HIV. All countries in the region are sources and recipients of human trafficking. Gender-based violence is becoming the focus of social policies.

AIDS has increased dramatically in the region: the number of HIV infections rose from 30,000 in 1995 to an estimated 1.6 million in 2007. The majority of reported infections are among young people, especially injecting drug users and sex workers, their clients and partners. Most (90 per cent) of the newly reported HIV diagnoses occurred in two countries, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, but the number of new infections are also rising in other countries.

Sub-regional differences are considerable. 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 a primary method of fertility regulation. Greater investment in data collection and advocacy are critical for developing evidence-based social policies, promoting reproductive health programmes and increasing resources for these challenges.

Source: Global and regional programme, 2008-2011