President Obama pledged on Friday to restore United States funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in upcoming appropriations. Bush-era withholding of UNFPA monies that had been authorized by Congress accounted for 13 percent of the total funding of UNFPA yearly for programs that improve access and quality of reproductive health care including family planning, prevention and treatment of obstetric fistula, and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS.
The withheld funding would have prevented some two million unwanted pregnancies, 4,700 maternal deaths, nearly 60,000 cases of maternal illnesses and over 77,000 cases of infant and child death each year.
In a press release, UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid said “President Obama’s decision could not have come at a more critical time. If women are to stop dying in childbirth and if reproductive health for all is to become a reality, we need increased political and financial commitment at all levels to implement strategies that we know will work. With the renewed US support to women and to UNFPA, the odds of that happening are greatly improved.”