– Release date: 12 October 2005
The Irish Family Planning Association has said that while the Government has come to a greater understanding of the importance of allocating development aid to the United Nations’ Population Fund (UNFPA), it was important to extend funding to family planning and reproductive health programmes in developing counties.
Speaking at the launch of the UNFPA’s State of the World Population Report, 2005, IFPA Chairperson, Catherine Forde said, “our Government’s commitment to providing UNFPA with increased resources each year is commendable. Our donation has ensured that the Fund can continue its important work in promoting safe motherhood, a reduction in harmful practices and reduced infant mortality.”
This year’s State of the World Population Report focuses on Gender Equity, Reproductive Health and the Millennium Development Goals.
The Minister for State for ODA, Deputy Conor Lenihan, officiated at today’s launch.
According to Ms Forde, “it is time that Ireland began allocating some of our ODA contribution to family planning and reproductive health programmes in developing countries. More specifically, it is our view that there is a moral and social responsibility on the Minister for State for Overseas Aid to prioritise investment in programmes concerned with behavioural change, contraception and sex education. These are key actions in preventing the transmission of HIV in developing countries.”
“In a world where 40 million people are living with HIV, it is simply not acceptable to overlook the important role which behavioural change plays. According to UNFPA, the greatest increase in HIV infection is in the 15 – 24 age group, which is particularly devastating for developing countries.
“The IFPA welcomes the fact that the Irish Government has significantly prioritised HIV/AIDS programmes, and applauds its increased focus on prevention. This includes funding programmes to promote the use of contraception, including condoms.
“Funding family planning and reproductive health programmes also have benefits beyond HIV/AIDS prevention. Women – when given the resources and knowledge to space and plan their families – can benefit from enhanced health because they don’t suffer complications from repeated births. In addition, empowering women in developing countries to decide the number and spacing of their children strengthens their economic independence.
“A first step in taking real leadership in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS and in providing family planning programmes would be for the Government to directly fund the work of the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
“Irish politicians and policy makers have had numerous opportunities through study-tours and delegation visits to see at first hand the positive impact that local family planning organisations can have in developing counties. Their experiences have been backed by international research and reaffirmed by world leaders at the World Summit last month.
“Recent Governments have realised the importance of funding UNFPA. It is now time that the Government took the next brave step to extend its funding to family planning and reproductive health service providers, so that future generations can avoid the appalling reality of HIV infection and unsafe motherhood,” said Catherine Forde.