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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – UN Urges More Aid for Women’s Health - 2004-09-05

Broadcast: September 6, 2004

This is Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Development Report.

The United Nations says that developing nations have made great improvements in reproductive health and women’s rights. But it says that rich counties have given only half of the six thousand million dollars they promised for these goals ten years ago.

The head of the U-N Population Fund made the announcement last week in London, England. Thoraya Ahmed Obaid spoke at a conference of non-governmental organizations. The meetings examined progress to improve reproductive health around the world by two thousand fifteen.

The meetings observed the tenth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt. At that time, one hundred seventy-nine countries agreed to a U-N plan of action to improve women’s health, education and rights.

Mizz Obaid says a new study by the U-N Population Fund shows that twenty-three countries have made the most progress toward improving the reproductive health of women. They include Zambia, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru, Nepal and the Philippines. But, Mizz Obaid says there has been little progress toward reaching other goals set ten years ago. The number of women who die during pregnancy and childbirth remains high. In addition, the spread of AIDS and the H-I-V virus is now affecting more women and children than ever before.

The report studied one hundred thirty-three countries with populations over one million. Researchers examined national rates of death among mothers and babies, number of children, national policies to end pregnancies, and the average number of children with H-I-V or AIDS infections. Portugal, Kuwait, the United States, Botswana, Namibia, Senegal and South Africa are among the countries that made little or no progress.

Mizz Obaid identified three important areas for reaching the goals by two thousand fifteen. They are better health for mothers, efforts to fight H-I-V/AIDS and devices to prevent pregnancy and the spread of sexual diseases. Mizz Obaid says the amount of money that rich nations give to pay for such contraceptives has dropped by more than thirty percent. But, she says the need for contraceptives in developing nations will increase forty percent by two thousand fifteen.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss. This is Gwen Outen.