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U.N. to unveil maternal healthcare drive, targets Muslim countries

The 13 focus countries include South Sudan, Ethiopia, India and Myanmar.

Source : Al Arabiya / 23 May 2013

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), will launch two new initiatives to improve maternal health in some of the most-hard-to-reach areas around the world, according to a statement on Wednesday.

The initiatives, set to be unveiled at next week’s 2013 Women Deliver Conference, which will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, will focus on increasing women’s access to family planning clinics.

The new project, to be announced with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), aims to deliver family planning services to the world’s marginalized populations, including those in post-conflict countries.

The 13 focus countries include South Sudan, Ethiopia, India and Myanmar.

“To reach the 222 million women who are unable to access modern family planning, we need to think outside the box,” says UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin.

The issue is especially important for the Middle East and Asia region.

“A number of majority-Muslim countries in the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond, including Egypt, Turkey, Iran, and Morocco, have made great commitments to increasing contraceptive prevalence and are seeing the benefits of doing so,” Dr. Gamal Serour, Director of the International Islamic Center for Population Studies and Research at Cairo’s al-Azhar University, wrote in a recent article for Al Arabiya English.

“Yet others, including Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, are still some of the worst places in the world to be a woman.”

“When women have access to contraceptives, maternal and child mortality rates are greatly reduced.”

However, other experts note that contraceptive measures should be a first step in a more detailed approach.

“It is not enough to just distribute contraceptives; we must approach the situation holistically by creating an enabling environment that responds to the needs of women, men and young people,”stated Osotimehin.

In the days leading up to the main conference, UNFPA will  co-host a symposium on midwifery.

Discussions will revolve around the importance of investing in midwives and on ways in which their skills can be improved to ensure health, and lower maternal deaths around the world.


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