A United Nations Population Fund official expressed her disappointment regarding the Bush Administration’s withdrawal of another $34 million for the UNFPA last week. Eriko Hibi, the UNFPA’s deputy director in Uzbekistan, asserted that the blockage of funds will have a negative impact on reproductive health activities in Central Asia and will constrain their program activities in the region, reports IRIN News.
According to IRIN News, Hibi stated that an additional $200,000 that the US originally slated for Uzbekistan would have expanded essential reproductive health and family planning services such as the procuring of contraceptives, provided training to make pregnancies safer, and improved the equipment in the hospital.
Secretary of State Colin Powell sent a letter to Congress last week stating that the United States will not fund the UNFPA for 2004. This is the third year that the Bush Administration has blocked funding to the UNFPA based on unsubstantiated claims by the right-wing group in 2002 by the Population Research International (PRI) that the UNFPA supports forced abortions in China. Even though President Bush sent his own handpicked investigative team that found no evidence to back PRI’s claim, he has continued to block desperately needed funding for the UNFPA.
The yearly US contribution to the UNFPA makes up 13 percent of the total funding for its international family planning programs – enabling UNFPA to prevent 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.