September 3, 2009

UN Calls For More Money For Birth Control

A lack of financing for global birth control programs has ended in an overwhelming number of unwanted pregnancies and death due to complications from childbirth.

This has lead the UN to call for the world to focus on improving women's health and provide easier access to contraception.

"It would cost the world only 23 billion dollars per year to stop women from having unintended pregnancies and dying in childbirth," said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

This would cost "less than 10 days of the world's military spending," Obaid said at the start of a forum on sexual and reproductive health, which gathers hundreds of experts and aid workers from across the globe.

The group works to fund contraception campaigns centered on cutting the yearly toll of 500,000 deaths of women in pregnancy or childbirth. The task of the UNFPA is to determine progress made since a landmark population and development conference in Cairo in 1994.

The Cairo conference marked the first time ever for population problems to be formally talked about in regards to individual rights rather than mere demographic control. They concluded with 179 nations agreeing to spend 17 billion dollars each year on family planning and maternal health.

"Since 1994, there have been successes, everything is not gloomy and dark," Obaid said, referring to the rise in the use of contraception. However, there are still approximately 200 million women that have no access to contraception, resulting in 76 million unwanted births a year.

Obaid was enthusiastic about the drastic change in sexual health policy since U.S. president Barack Obama took office. The previous president George W. Bush reduced financing to the UN body for seven years.

"Mr. Obama has inherited a very difficult legacy. We're sure happy that the US will come back as an active member in support of the UNFPA," said Obaid, with the US set to give 50 million dollars to the UN body this year.

The previous administration claimed that the reason for the funding cut was because the UNFPA was taking part in forcing abortion and sterilization programs in China, rather than promoting sexual abstinence, as they would have particularly liked to have see happen in Africa.

The new Obama administration has begun to finance organizations again that provide women with greater access to birth control or abortion.


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