Health and Rights in the Americas

Dear Friends,

The end of a year is a good time to look back and reflect on achievements, and to look forward, to find the challenges that await us.

In an organization like IPPF/WHR, with 60 staff working on a wide range of activities, and thousands of volunteers and staff in the 40 Member Associations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, it is hard to see the entirety of our work. That's a pity, as what we do is quite remarkable.

I invite you to take a close look at a few moments where I have been especially proud of what has been achieved. These photographs show the impact that our projects are having on the ground. Please take a look and share your comments with us.

Wishing you a happy and warm holiday season,

Carmen Barroso

Regional Director

International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region



2010 was off to a tragic start in Haiti, which faced an unimaginable struggle to rebuild following the devastating earthquake.

From the very first days following the disaster, our staff moved quickly to rally support for PROFAMIL, our member association in Haiti and a team went to Haiti to provide direct assistance.

Destruction of PROFAMIL's Port-au-Prince clinic. Alix, a PROFAMIL driver and other clinic staff rescued materials and equipment from the rubble.

In disaster scenarios there are often many unsung heroes – staff members whose photographs are not here, who provided life-saving services and helped to rebuild PROFAMIL's foundation as a leading sexual and reproductive health organization in Haiti.

Clients awaiting the arrival of a PROFAMIL mobile clinic in Jacmel

Clients awaiting the arrival of a PROFAMIL mobile clinic in Jacmel


In the last few months PROFAMIL has grown tremendously, hiring a new Executive Director. Under new leadership, PROFAMIL has quickly regained its status as a key provider of vital sexual and reproductive health services through its 50 staff and network of community promoters.

In the New Year, PROFAMIL will replace temporary tents with sturdy prefabricated structures which will fare better during the hurricane season and will be strategically located to provide a wide range of services.

PROFAMIL has a packed agenda for 2011, to rebuild and revamp service-delivery in the coming months. We are poised to support them through this process and wish them the utmost success in the New Year.



A Promise is a Promise

In April at the United Nations Commission on Population and Development, IPPF/WHR launched A Promise is a Promise: Universal Access to Reproductive Health, a campaign to increase awareness of, and influence key decision makers about, the importance of strengthening governmental efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goal 5b, through a united communications and advocacy strategy.

Carmen Barroso (right) and Marcela Suazo, Director of UNFPA Latin America, at the launch of A Promise is a Promise at UN Headquarters in New York.

Millennium Development Goal 5, to Improve maternal health, originally included only Target 5a: Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio. IPPF and many of its partners in the sexual and reproductive health movement campaigned long and hard for an additional Target 5b: Achieve, by 2015, universal access to reproductive health, and we have had to redouble our efforts to ensure that it receives the same attention as Target 5a.

In September our efforts culminated in the UN Millennium Summit which reviewed progress towards achieving the MDGs. We were pleased that our goal was achieved, and that the UN General Assembly included in the Summit outcome document a clear reference to the importance of strengthening efforts to achieve MDG5b and that governments commit to funding and implementing MDG5b-related programs and activities. However, there remains much work to be done to ensure that political and financial commitments become a reality.


Donor Trip to Colombia Generates Momentum for our Cause

In late October, six major donors visited PROFAMILIA, our Member Association in Colombia, to learn about their work first-hand. Hosted by our Board member from Colombia, Diana Barco, the group visited Bogota, Monteria and Cartagena and saw PROFAMILIA in action at Mobile Health Units and urban clinics.

Learning about the dynamic role that PROFAMILIA plays in providing vital services in a country that faces numerous socio-political challenges, the trip inspired an even deeper commitment to the sexual and reproductive health movement.

Participants captured their new understanding of the work we do through compelling photography, videos, blog entries and emails to friends, colleagues and potential donors. This trip helped to cast a wider net of potential donors and fundraising opportunities for IPPF/WHR and PROFAMILIA and is a model we hope to replicate in the future.



50 & Fabulous

IPPF/WHR and Profamil staff members pose with Dr. Ruth Westheimer

In October staff, donors, and supporters attended the 50 & Fabulous Gala: Celebrating 50 Years of Women's Advances since the Pill at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. The Gala brought together leaders in women's health, business and the arts to salute and honor pioneers in the sexual and reproductive health community. Alexander Sanger, grandson of Margaret Sanger, was honored.

The program honored three organizations who have made significant contributions, including our US Member Association, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and our Haitian Association, PROFAMIL.



Medal of honor

In late September, Dr. Oscar Ugarte Ubilluz, the Peruvian Minister of Health was awarded the Medal of Honor for Distinguished Intableidual Contribution to Sexual and Reproductive Health by IPPF/WHR. This medal honors political and social leaders who have taken decisive action in the defense and the recognition of sexual and reproductive health as a human right in Latin America and the Caribbean. The annual ceremony, during which several awards were granted to IPPF Member Associations in the region, took place in Lima, Peru. IPPF Director General, Gill Greer was in attendance along with IPPF President Jackie Sharpe, Regional Director Carmen Barroso, and the Executive Directors and members of national boards of IPPF's Member Associations in Latin America and the Caribbean.



Advocacy and Services – PROFAMILIA, Dominican Republic

The consistently high volume and quality of sexual and reproductive health services provided by our Member Associations is of necessity closely linked to their ability to carry out effective advocacy both to repel opposition to their vital work and to ensure that the legal and financial environment is as favorable as possible to their success.

PROFAMILIA is a model service provider operating in a very difficult environment with relentless opposition from the Catholic Church, which recently succeeded in obtaining passage of a constitutional amendment to define life as beginning at the moment of conception. This type of provision renders abortion illegal under any circumstance and even threatens to undermine the legality of family planning services and contraception.

A PROFAMILIA educator distributes condoms at a mobile health unit site.

In response to this increasingly hostile environment, PROFAMILIA has been proactive in seeking major funding to support its advocacy efforts. They applied for a grant from the European Community, in the amount of 900,000 Euros or about $1,200,000, "To achieve a higher incidence of sexual rights and reproductive rights among the Dominican population," specifically by promoting legislative and policy changes favoring the expansion of these rights among vulnerable populations and promoting greater awareness of among the wider population to empower especially women and young people in demanding their sexual and reproductive rights.

It is noteworthy PROFAMILIA won this award in competition with more than 600 organizations worldwide. The local EC delegation had given PROFAMILIA the highest possible rating on all aspects of their application. They will work in partnership with the Dominican Obstetric and Gynecological Society, the Gender Studies Department of INTEC University and the Santiago Women's Support Center.



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