IPPF Launches Initiative on Universal Access to Reproductive Health


The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) launched Your Promise, Our Goal – Universal Access to Reproductive Health during the forty-third session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (CPD) which took place from April 12-16, 2010.  IPPF, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Population Action International, Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, Action Canada for Population and Development, Ipas, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other organizations are collaborating on this year-long initiative to raise awareness among decision-makers at the national, regional, and international levels on the existence and urgency of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5b, and on the gaps and challenges impeding its achievement.

“Universal access to reproductive health is key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals,” said Dr. Carmen Barroso, IPPF’s Western Hemisphere Regional Director, speaking at a reception held at UN headquarters on Wednesday. MDG 5, particularly 5b, is the most off-track of all MDGs, yet the critical importance of reproductive health to development has been widely acknowledged. Universal access to reproductive health is key to reducing maternal mortality; preventing unwanted pregnancies; curbing the spread of STIs, including HIV/AIDS; empowering women and girls; and contributing to a more sustainable world for all people and is central to the theme of this year’s CPD: health, mortality, morbidity, and development.  
“Reproductive health is critical and I am honored and happy to be a diplomat and a delegate from a country that has a very progressive view on this matter,” said Minister Guillereme Patrioatra of the Brazilian Mission to the United Nations at the event. “Reproductive health is something that needs to be framed in a way that crosses cultures and religious and cultural divides, and has to be universal.”  
Ten years ago world leaders agreed on a set of concrete and measurable development objectives, the MDGs. Goal 5 on Maternal Health set out to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015. However, when the MDGs were adopted in 2000, the link between maternal and reproductive health was not acknowledged and reproductive health for all, a central goal of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), was not included. Following vigorous campaigning by civil society organizations, governments, and UN Bodies, in 2005 at the World Summit governments agreed to include the ICPD goal on ‘achieving universal access to reproductive health by 2015,’ in the MDG framework. In 2007 a new target was included in MDG 5 to Increase Maternal Health - MDG 5b, to achieve by 2015, universal access to reproductive health.
The latest assessment of maternal mortality rates released this week by the Lancet indicates a significant global reduction. “In general the trend is in the right direction. That is the important news. But it is not enough and we don’t have time to pause in this fight. There is a lot more ahead of us to be done,” noted Purnima Mane, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Deputy Executive Director for Programmes. Only twenty-one countries are on track for reaching the target of reducing maternal mortality by 75% by 2015 and every year approximately 340,000 women still die as a result of complications during pregnancy and child birth.
“That there has been a 35% decline in the number of maternal deaths in the last 30 years is encouraging, but we are still not within sight of achieving a 75% reduction by 2015. Maternal mortality is both a consequence and a cause of extreme poverty,” said Barroso. She added, “The world's 'biggest promise' has continued to fail women and their children. The next MDG Summit in September is a crucial moment for governments to make up for lost opportunities, to define the actions that will ensure greater investment in women, children and young people, with sexual and reproductive health and rights at its center.”

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