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Improving Reproductive Health

Reproductive health is a means to sustainable development as well as a human right. Some 350 million couples lack adequate means to plan their families or space their children. Each year, half a million women in developing countries die during pregnancy or in childbirth. Investments in reproductive health save and improve lives, slow the spread of HIV/AIDS and encourage gender equality. These in turn help to stabilize population growth and reduce poverty. Investments in reproductive health extend from the individual to the family, and from the family to the world.

UNFPA promotes a holistic approach to reproductive health care that includes: access to a range of safe and affordable contraceptive methods and to sensitive counseling; prenatal care, attended deliveries, emergency obstetric care and post-natal care; and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS.

Supporting Adolescents and Youth

Today the world has the largest youth generation ever - the first generation of young people to grow up with HIV/AIDS. There are more than a billion people between 15 and 24.

UNFPA works to ensure that adolescents and young people have accurate information as well as non-judgmental counseling, and comprehensive and affordable services to prevent unwanted pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections including the HIV infection that leads to AIDS.

Preventing HIV/AIDS

Each day 14,000 people-half of them aged 15 to 24-are newly infected, and add to the epidemic's staggering impact on health and on the social and economic stability of nations. In some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, young women are now up to six times more likely than young men to be infected with HIV.

Prevention, the centerpiece of UNFPA's fight against the disease, is being integrated into reproductive health programming around the world. Prevention includes promoting safer sexual behavior among young people, making sure condoms are readily available and widely and correctly used, empowering women to protect themselves and their children, and encouraging men to make a difference.

Promoting Gender Equality

Women can and must play a powerful role in sustainable development and poverty eradication. When women are educated and healthy, their families, communities and nations benefit. Yet gender-based discrimination and violence pervade almost every aspect of life, undermining women's opportunities and denying them the ability to fully exercise their basic human rights.

For more than 30 years, UNFPA has been in the forefront of bringing gender issues to wider attention, promoting legal and policy reforms and gender-sensitive data collection, and supporting projects that empower women economically. The Fund aims to improve the status of women at every stage of their lives.

Securing Reproductive Health Supplies

Without the essential commodities-from contraceptives to testing kits to equipment for emergency obstetric care-the right to reproductive health cannot be fully exercised. In many places, condoms are urgently needed to prevent the further spread of the deadly HIV virus.

The mandate of UNFPA in this area is to provide the right quantities of the right products in the right condition in the right place at the right time for the right price. This complex logistical process involves many actors, including the public and private sectors. UNFPA takes a lead role in reproductive health commodity security, coordinating the process, forecasting needs, mobilizing support and building logistical capacity at the country level.

Assisting in Emergencies

Humanitarian crises are reproductive health disasters. Complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death for displaced women of childbearing age. In conflicts, the risk of sexual violence and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, increases dramatically.

Within the framework of coordinated, interagency responses to disasters, UNFPA takes the lead in providing supplies and services to protect reproductive health. Priority areas for emergency response include safe motherhood, prevention of sexually transmitted infections including HIV, adolescent health, and sexual and gender-based violence.

Advancing Sustainable Development

Changes in the structure, distribution, and size of populations are interlinked with all facets of sustainable development. Tracking these changes and analyzing population trends helps governments and international agencies generate the political will to appropriately address current and future needs.

UNFPA helps developing countries collect and analyze population data and to integrate population and development strategies into national, regional and global planning.

Building Support

UNFPA is the world's leading advocate for reproductive health and rights, including the right to choose the number and spacing of one's children. The Fund also promotes the inclusion of population issues in national planning processes. Advocacy-at the individual, community, national, regional and global levels-is a powerful tool by which UNFPA is able to increase its impact.

Alliances-with other United Nations agencies, governments, NGOs, foundations and the private sector-enable the Fund to raise awareness of and mobilize support for the goals set forth in the International Conference on Population and Development and the UN Millennium Summit.

UNFPA Global Reach

UNFPA supports programmes in four developing regions: Arab States and Europe, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa. We work in 142 countries, areas and territories through nine Country Technical Services Teams and 112 country offices.

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