President Obama signed the 2009 fiscal year omnibus spending bill yesterday, which included a provision allotting $50 million to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). In the first days of his term, Obama pledged to restore US funding to UNFPA in upcoming appropriations.
UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid said in a press release that “we warmly applaud this action by President Obama, which underlines his support to the protection of the lives and human dignity of women and girls in the poorest countries .[this support] will allow UNFPA to maintain its life-saving work, particularly improving maternal and reproductive health, in the world’s poorest communities, especially during this financial crisis.”
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.