Maternal health, family planning still ‘unfinished business’, says UNFPA regional director

  • Nurul Islam Hasib,
    Published: 2019-09-19 12:47:16 BdST


There are “unfinished businesses” in maternal health and family planning, says the visiting UNFPA regional director ahead of the heads of states meeting in Nairobi in November to take stock of game-changer International Conference on Population and Development or ICPD.

“It’s (Nairobi meet) a way to reenergise and to see how we can move forward in closing the gaps,” UNFPA Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Björn Andersson told on Wednesday in Dhaka.

“There is an unfinished business in terms of maternal health, family planning and harmful practices,” he said while commending Bangladesh’s progress under the ICDP commitment.

This year’s event marks the 25th year of the ICPD and also the 50th year of the UNFPA which is pursuing the movement.

The ICPD programme of action is a landmark movement through which a consensus was reached about the links between women’s empowerment, sexual and reproductive health, and rights and sustainable development. That movement moved away from tradition population control, towards a human-centred, and rights-based, approach to development.

The ICPD generated a new narrative into the development discourse of an individual’s freedom to decide about his or her reproductive life – putting people at the heart of sustainable development.

The quality of reproductive health services and respect for women’s rights were placed firmly at the centre.

Andersson said marking the 25 years globally, the countries are taking stock of progress since the ICPD identifies the gaps.

“In November, this year we have invited heads of states, different stakeholders, private sector, academia to come and discuss about the implementation and how to work together to close the gap,” he said.

“At the end, they will adopt a global commitment,” he said. “We are hoping that governments will also present national commitment”.

He applauded Bangladesh for its achievements on the ICPD agenda.

For example, he said, in Bangladesh, the maternal mortality has decreased to 176 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015 from 322 in 2000.

The contraceptive prevalence rate has increased to 62 percent in 2014 from around 45 percent in 1994 this is in line with the global trajectory of achievement. The coverage of government health services has also increased significantly.

Significant progress in both primary and secondary school enrolment and completion has been made since 1994. As of 1990, the net enrolment ratio in primary education is said to be 60 percent compared with 98 percent by 2017.

However, child marriage which is now around 59 percent has not declined as expected.

“We want to believe that ICPD has provided impetus to change things,” he said.

But child marriage remained a challenge despite gender quality and women education, said the UNFPA regional director.

“The perspective has to be long-term. We need to invest in girl education in making sure that the girls are truly empowered so that they can bring up the matters to parents.”