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28.09.2004 General News

2004 Population Report launched

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Accra, Sept. 28, GNA - Gender bias; violence against women; lack of progress in addressing high maternal morbidity in developing countries and fall in donor funding for contraceptives are among key issues addressed in the 2004 State of the World's Population Report launched in Accra on Tuesday.

The Report on the theme: "The Cairo Consensus at Ten: Population, Reproductive Health And The Global Effort To End Poverty" reviews achievements made so far in addressing discrimination, poverty and access to contraception among other things since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo. Although some progress have been made, the Report said 10 years on complications from pregnancy and child birth remained a leading cause of death and illness among women.

"Five million new HIV infections occurred during 2003; women are nearly half of all infected adults, and nearly three fifth of these are in Sub-Saharan Africa", the Report said.

It said some 201 million women, especially in poor countries, still had unmet needs for effective contraception. The Report said meeting their needs would cost about 3.9 billion dollars a year to prevent 23 million unplanned births and 22 million induced abortions.

It noted that donor support for reproductive health commodities had declined over the past 10 years creating gaps between needs and supplies for contraceptives and other facilities.

Presenting an overview of the report at a meeting organised by the United Nations Fund for population Activities (UNFPA), Professor Andrews Aryee, of the Population Impact Project of the University of Ghana, said: "Globally, one in three women endure domestic violence and are coerced into sex."

On achievements made so far in eliminating gender-based violence, he said, a survey showed that 91 countries out of 151 had laws in place to punish gender-based violence but only 21 actually enforced such laws.

Prof. Aryee mentioned other disturbing areas, which the Report addressed, saying there were some 340 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections every year.

On maternal morbidity, he said, 529,000 deaths occurred a year with a risk of one out of every 12 women loosing their lives in West Africa as compared to 1:4000 in the developed countries.

On HIV/AIDS, Prof Aryee said only about 100,000 people were receiving antiretroviral drugs out of the 4.4 million that had need of the drugs in Africa.

Ms Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA, in a speech read for her, said 10 years ago 179 countries at the ICPD in Cairo adopted a landmark agreement to advance "human well-being by linking the alleviation of poverty to the empowerment of women and universal access to reproductive health".

She said this year's report was part of efforts to examine progress made so far and to chart the way forward. Professor. Fred Sai, Presidential Spokesperson on Population and HIV/AIDS, who launched the Report, expressed worries over issues affecting girls' education.

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