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More information on Women’s Health, the MDGs, and US Funding
3/8/2006
  • Family-planning services give women and their families the power to space births, plan pregnancies, avoid abortion, and vastly improve maternal health and well being. In spite of this, more than 200 million women around the world who desire family-planning services have no access. Unmet need is highest in sub-Saharan Africa, and demand is only increasing.
     
  • More than 99 percent of the world’s pregnancy-related deaths occur in developing countries, with women in sub-Saharan Africa facing a 1 in 16 lifetime risk of dying in pregnancy or childbirth. This is a reality that destabilizes communities, weakens families, and severely impairs any movement to long-term sustainable development.
     
  • Access to family planning also holds an important key in the struggle against HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections that currently are destabilizing much of the developing world. In spite of increasing world funding for the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the amount of money designated for supplies like condoms continues to fall. The combined cost of contraceptives and condoms for disease prevention is expected to nearly double over the next decade – from US$1.0 billion in 2003 to $1.8 billion in 2015 – while delivery and related costs will rise to $9 billion. In 2002, donors funded just 30 percent of the costs of needed supplies, down from 41 percent in the early to mid-1990s. To return to 41 percent, donors would have to contribute $739 million for contraceptives and condoms in 2015.
     
  • Despite this desperate need, U.S. support for international-family-planning programs is at a historic low. The Administration’s FY’07 budget, released last month, slashes funding even further to $296 million from last year’s level of $425 million. By contrast, a decade ago, these programs were funded at more than $540 million per year.
     
  • Making matters worse, President Bush has eliminated all U.S. funding for the UN Population Fund – the world’s only multilateral family-planning program for the developing world – and saddled the U.S.’s own international-family-planning programs with a series of restrictions that greatly hamper their effectiveness.
     
  • In response, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced H.R. 4188, the Focus on Family Health Worldwide Act. The proposal authorizes desperately needed increases in international-family-planning programs – in incremental steps – for each fiscal year between 2007 and 2011. Funding would begin at $600 million in the current fiscal year, increasing $100 million each year to a peak of $1 billion in 2011. Particularly as U.S. funding for these initiatives has languished in recent years, these increases are absolutely essential to the future of the programs.
     
  • The Episcopal Church strongly supports achievement of the Millennium Development Goals as a historic and far reaching effort to address worldwide poverty and its many manifestations directly. The world is lagging significantly in its progress toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. The UN’s most recent report on the MDGs – released last year in advance of the September World Summit at the UN – makes clear that significantly greater resources from industrialized nations are necessary if the Goals are to be met.
     
  • The MDG targets related to the health of women and families – Goal 3 (Gender Equality), Goal 4 (Child Survival), Goal 5 (Maternal Mortality), and Goal 6 (HIV/AIDS and Other Diseases) rely on access to family-planning services to succeed. All of these Goals currently lag behind progress in the most impoverished regions of the world.


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