UN Presses for More Family Planning Aid to Stem Population Explosion

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) released a report yesterday stating that the poorest countries’ populations will triple by 2050 and that there will be a population explosion unless donor countries provide more funds to family planning and reproductive health programs. The State of World Population Report 2004 examines how much progress has been made to achieve the goals set during the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, Egypt. Speaking at a news conference in London, Thoraya Obaid, the executive director of the UNFPA, said, “In 2004, it is a crime that women still die because they are having babies É because it is poor women who are suffering and dying, maternal mortality is a crisis that does not get the urgent attention it deserves,” reports the Toronto Star. Donor countries have only given out about half of the $6.1 billion a year that was promised at the ICPD by 2005.

According to the report, one out of 16 women die during childbirth in sub-Saharan Africa compared with the one out of 2,900 who die in developed countries. In addition, more than 350 million couples lack access to family planning care and contraception such as condoms and 38 million people are currently infected with HIV/AIDS, reports the UNFPA.

During the release of the report at the National Press Club yesterday, Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said that “under the current administration the U.S., [which] helped broker the Cairo Consensus ten years ago, has become a barrier to programs for the world’s women.” Also pointing to the Bush Administration’s lack of attention to vital population concerns, the president of the UN Foundation, Tim Wirth, stated that “access to condoms has become a pressing problem around the world É [but] this administration has not helped on this front.” Wirth also cited the influence of the Vatican and conservatives within the Muslim community, who are working to prevent the United States from reaffirming its commitments to the ICPD.

The Bush Administration has blocked $34 million each year since 2002 for the UNFPA based on allegations that UNFPA programs were involved in forced abortions in China Ðallegations that were proven false by the three of the Administration’s own handpicked State Department investigative teams. In addition, according to Maloney, the US is also spending $100 million less on international family planning today then it did in 1995.

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Toronto Star 9/15/04; BBC News 9/15/04; Reuters 9/15/04; UNFPA State of the World Population 2004

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