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The need to link development with population is greater than ever

By September 14, 2004News

– Release date: 15 September 2004

The Irish Family Planning Association has said that the findings of this year’s State of the World Population Report should spur to politicians, policy makers and civil society to ensure the full execution of the ICPD Programme of Action.

The State of the World Population Report, launched today in Dublin, is the flagship annual report of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

This year’s report, The Cairo Consensus at Ten: Population, Reproductive Health and the Global Effort to End Poverty, examines progress made in implementing the Programme of Action that was agreed by the International Conference of Population and Development ten years. The report highlights the obstacles encountered at the halfway point in implementing the ICPD Programme, the most significant being the shortfall in funding from donor countries.

Chairing the launch of the report, Niall Behan, Chief Executive of the IFPA, which is the collaborative partner of the UNFPA in Ireland, said, “ten years ago this week 179 countries signed up to a consensus that recognised that development and population issues are inextricably linked. Its goals include universal access to education and health care, including reproductive health-family planning services; safe motherhood; treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS, and protection from violence.

“It is fitting that Minister Kitt, one of the leaders that forged the global consensus ten years ago is here to launch this report. The Irish Government has made major strides in moving forward the ICPD Programme of Action and shown a commendable willingness to prioritise funding for sexual and reproductive health.”

Since Cairo, Ireland’s support for population and reproductive health activities has increased substantially. Its contribution to UNFPA has increased from $255,000 in 1994 to $2,818,000. However the report confirms that donor countries are providing only half the amount they pledged to implement the Programme of Action.

“Today the IFPA urges the Government to continue in its efforts to meet its financial commitments to implementing ICPD and also to formulate policies which integrate population and sexual and reproductive health in our development strategy.

“Earlier this year, on the occasion of a conference the IFPA convened to mark the tenth anniversary of Cairo, I asked Irish politicians and NGOs who have chosen not to include reproductive health in their agendas to rise up to the challenge and fight to ensure full implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action. Today, I want to make that call again.

“Irish NGOs and Development Cooperation Ireland have been extremely active in the battle against HIV/AIDS, but it is crucial that they begin to link this global epidemic with the need for improved reproductive health services. More than seventy-five per cent of HIV cases are transmitted sexually. An additional 10 per cent are transmitted from mothers to children during labour, delivery or breastfeeding.

“Fears of criticism from some church leaders and conservative opposition groups opposed to family planning cannot be allowed to dissuade us from building a strong campaign to strengthen and maintain political commitment, and to overcome formidable and sometimes fanatical opponents. Unless all of us rise to the challenge of putting reproductive health at the heart of development policy, the appalling statistics on maternal mortality and health will persist,” warned Niall Behan.

Useful Links:
UNFPA's State of the World Population Report
Address by Minister Kitt at the Launch